McAdam: Valentine brings bright lights with him to Fenway

601900.jpg

McAdam: Valentine brings bright lights with him to Fenway

BOSTON -- About an hour after he had been formally introduced as the new manager of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine was surrounded by reporters on the State Street Pavillion at Fenway Park, taking questions and parrying answers.

One reporter noted that this job represents the first time that Valentine had become manager of a quality team. Valentine, as he often does, did the reporter one better, noting that it's also the first time that he's not taken over in the middle of the season.

"This is going to be different," said Valentine.

Is it ever.

Valentine is the 45th manager in the Red Sox history, but the first rock star manager the franchise has ever had.

VIDEO: Red Sox Talk - Covering their bases on who made the final decision
The press conference featured reporters from five different New York-area newspapers -- and not just because Valentine's last job in Major League Baseball was as manager of the Mets.

Valentine's introduction was carried live not only by CSNNE and NESN but several of the network affiliates in town.

There were so many cameras and microphones and notebooks in the room that it was difficult to maneuver. Many would have been there if Gene Lamont had been the one being introduced Thursday afternoon, but Valentine's presence made it An Event.

He salivated over the prospect of taking part in the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry. He teared up and let out a sigh as he tried on the uniform for the first time. He smiled, joked and thanked all the right people.

He was "humbled, honored and pretty damn excited," he said.

Never, it seems safe to say, have the Red Sox had a manager like this, who arrives with a built-in star quality.

They've done scrappy first-timers (Dick Williams). They've done loyal organizational men (Eddie Kasko) and they've done grizzled retreads (Ralph Houk, John McNamara). They've done local natives (Joe Morgan) and good ol' sons of the South (Butch Hobson).

They've done old-school lifers (Jimy Williams) and cornpone (Grady Little). They hired someone who had four losing seasons and watched him win two World Series (Terry Francona).

But they've never done this before -- an honest-to-goodness, larger-than-life, scenery-chewing, ready-for-my-closeup manager.

It's not just his TV experience that prepared him for this, the role of a lifetime. Though Valentine was a natural on TV, it was a mere professional layover for him, something to keep him occupied and around the game while waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.

Enter the Red Sox.

For all his polish and savvy and comfort in front of the camera, Valentine is actually a throwback to a time when baseball managers had personalities. He would have fit right in in the 1970s with Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and, of course, his baseball godfather, Tommy Lasorda.

Lately, it's as if the personalities have been scrubbed clean from the game. Too many managers speak Cliche as a second language and measure every response about their starting rotation as though it was a matter of national security.

Valentine doesn't do dull or predictable. He has boundless energy, an unquenchable appetite for baseball and a genuine love of the game. He even married into baseball bloodlines (his wife is the daughter of Ralph Branca).

His postgame press conferences will become appointment viewing and there may be nights that Pam Ganley, the team's media relations director, will have to yank Valentine off the podium with a cane, Vaudeville-style -- not because he's bombing but because he can'twon't stop talking.

Sports is big business, a battle for the entertainment dollar with plenty of competition elsewhere. Don't think for a minute that the Red Sox didn't take that into consideration when they settled on Valentine. They not only have a skipper of the local nine, as Morgan quaintly put it two decades ago, they have a honest-too-goodness personality.

Ultimately, of course, Valentine wasn't brought in to entertain or make the post-game show compelling. He was brought in to win. If he doesn't, or fails to get the reins on the clubhouse, it could get ugly.

Like every other Red Sox manager in the last 30 years, the expectations will be huge and the honeymoon brief.

But it will be an interesting ride along the way. Bobby Valentine may be a lot of things, but "dull" isn't one of them.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ziegler stumbles in Red Sox' 4-3 loss

red-sox-brad-ziegler-072716.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Ziegler stumbles in Red Sox' 4-3 loss

BOSTON -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday.

QUOTES

"For maybe the first time when he hasn't put the ball on the ground consistently, that's the one spot that shows up here today.''
-- John Farrell on Brad Ziegler, who gave up the game-winning homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth inning.

"Unfortunately, we're one-swing-of-the-bat difference here today.''
-- Farrell

"It wasn't a horrible pitch; it just wasn't a great one either.''
-- Zieger on the pitch to Cabrera.

"Shoot, I've got to be honest. I haven't even looked at the schedule. I know there's 162 [games] on there. That's about all I know.''
-- Dustin Pedroia, when asked about the team's upcoming string of road games.

NOTES

-- The Red Sox dropped to 11-14 against teams from the American League Central.

-- The series sweep was the first of the season suffered by the Red Sox. Every other MLB team had already been swept more than once.

-- Pedroia has reached base safely in 30 straight games. It's the second-longest streak of his career.

-- Xander Bogaerts hit safely in every game on the homestand, batting .447 in that span.

-- Seven of Sandy Leon's 10 doubles this season have come in day games.

-- Aaron Hill collected his first extra-base hit (double) as a member of the Red Sox.

-- Victor Martinez reached base in all five plate appearances, becoming the first Tiger to do so at Fenway since Pudge Rodriguez in 2008.

-- The Tigers are 7-2 in their last nine Fenway games.

-- Opposing hitters had been just 1-for-22 against Brad Ziegler as a member of the Red Sox before Cabrera's homer.

STARS
 

1) Miguel Cabrera -- He was 3-for-4 with an intentional walk, including the game-winning homer in the top of the ninth.

2) Victor Martinez -- He remains one of the game's best pure hitters, which he demonstrated with four hits and two RBI.

3) Michael Fulmer -- He continued his Rookie of the Year case with 7 2/3 strong innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.

First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

red-sox-eduardo-rodriguez-072716.jpg

First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon:

1) Eduardo Rodriguez pitched pretty well, but not well -- or deep -- enough.

Rodriguez has now made three starts since coming back from Pawtucket and any one of them was better than his starts from earlier this year.

He's no longer tipping his pitches, he's commanding better in general and his fastball has been more powerful.

But he's also giving up a lot of hits (19 in 18 innings) and he's gotten through the sixth inning just once in his three outings. For a team short in its bullpen, that's leaving a big workload for the relievers.

2) The late-inning comebacks have been in short supply.

Yes,  the Red Sox have scored runs by the boatload at times. And yes, they've mostly played hard this season.

But before Wednesday, the Sox had been just 3-35 when trailing after seven innings and they had enjoyed only two walkoff wins all season.

Those numbers can be misleading, of course. Teams can dig out from early holes -- as the Red Sox did Tuesday night.

But the ninth-inning rallies haven't happened much. In fact, on the current home stand, the Sox have had the top-to-middle part of the order up in the bottom of the ninth -- with David Ortiz getting an at-bat each time -- on four separate occasions, trailing by a run or two, and couldn't produce a winning rally.

3) Clay Buchholz may be pitching himself out of the doghouse

After going weeks -- literally --between appearances, Buchholz has been called upon four times in the last seven games.

Granted, in most of those games, the Red Sox have been trailing. But the games were such that they were still within reach, contradicting John Farrell's remarks late last week when he broadly hinted that he didn't trust Buchholz in games that were close.

Slowly, however, Buchholz could be earning some trust coming out of the bullpen. He had a perfect inning Wednesday with the Sox trailing by a run at the time.

Wednesday's Red Sox-Tigers lineup: E-Rod aims to avoid sweep

red_sox_eduardo_rodriguez_071115.jpg

Wednesday's Red Sox-Tigers lineup: E-Rod aims to avoid sweep

BOSTON -- The Red Sox send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound as they attempt to salvage the final game of their homestand and avoid a sweep at the hands of the Tigers.

Today's lineups:

TIGERS:
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
James McCann C
Tyler Collins CF
---
Michael Fullmer P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt LF
---
Eduardo Rodriguez P