Red Sox notes: Valentine's behavior turns more bizarre

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Red Sox notes: Valentine's behavior turns more bizarre

OAKLAND -- Friday night's lopsided 20-2 loss to the Oakland A's may have represented the bottoming out for the 2012 Red Sox. The 20 runs were the most scored against the team this season and the margin of defeat was the greatest since a loss in 2000.

It didn't help that much of the damage -- 13 of the 20 runs -- were produced by former Red Sox players Brandon Moss (four RBI), Josh Reddick (four RBI) and George Kottaras (five RBI), adding an extra dose of humiliation for the organization.

The loss was the fourth in a row on this nine-game road swing on the West Coast, during which the Sox have been outscored 41-12 and it dovetailed with some increasingly bizarre behavior on the part of manager Bobby Valentine.

On Friday, Valentine arrived in the Red Sox clubhouse at 4:15, less than three hours before the start of the game. Most major league managers habitually arrived five hours or more before first pitch. Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona, was usually in the clubhouse, home or away, before noon for a 7 p.m. night game.

A team spokesperson said Valentine had picked up his adult son at the airport.

As Valentine arrived, dressed in street clothes, accompanied by personal assistant Zach Minasian, he smiled broadly as he walked through the clubhouse to his office in the back of the clubhouse.

"It didn't go unnoticed -- let's put it that way,'' said a person in the clubhouse.

Saturday's lineup offered a surprise, with outfielder Scott Podsednik hitting third for the first time this season and, in fact, the first time in 1,056 career games. (Podsednik has hit third in six games prior to Saturday, but each time was as an in-game replacement).

When asked about the unusual choice, Valentine offered a rambling bizarre explanation.

"Just a mistake,'' shrugged Valentine. "Is that what it says on the lineup? What the (expletive), switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven't seen it.''

Typically, Valentine e-mails the lineup to a member of the coaching staff, who types out the lineup on a card and posts a copy of it in the clubhouse.

It was unclear whether Valentine was attempting to intimate that the move was not his idea, but rather one dictated by someone else, or frankly, what his motivation was.

Earlier in the trip, Valentine was asked about a pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning that may or may not have grazed Angels shortstop Erick Aybar on the knee. Aybar would come around to score the tying run as the Red Sox suffered a walkoff loss.

When a reporter asked Valentine whether he had seen a replay of the pitch to determine whether Aybar had indeed been hit, Valentine exploded, appearing wildly defensive in the face of a routine query.

"You know,'' ranted Valentine, ''I'm sick of people asking me whether or not we saw anything from the dugout and whether or not the umpires got the call right. Their job is to get the call right. Simple. If they don't get it right, that's not the players on the field's fault for not arguing it. It's not the people in the dugout's fault for not seeing it from 80 feet away. They have a job to do; just do it. I think. I really am sick of talking about that stuff. Thank you. If they can't do the job and get it right, you reporters should all change the system."

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.

 

Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told CSNNE.com, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told CSNNE.com.

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com. “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.