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."

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

Red Sox 'not going to rush' moving pitching depth after acquiring Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The addition of Chris Sale to the Red Sox' rotation has created a rare glut of starting pitchers, including seven with major league experience.

That means that at least one will have to be moved in a trade. But Red Sox' president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski isn't in any hurry.

"We're not aggressively looking to do something,'' he said. "We're really just digesting what's taken place. I think if we wanted to aggressively make a deal, we could definitely do that. But I don't really have a big hole on our major league club to address at this time.

"I think it's really important to gather all the info. Some teams have (starters) available; there are free agents out there. Our philosophy is kind of say, 'Let's just see what happens.' We're not going to rush out and do anything.''

That makes sense, especially since there's a very thin free agent market for starters, and many teams that need upgrades to their rotation.

Eventually, some are going to get desperate and may have to overpay. In that scenario, the Sox could really capitalize.

The starter the Sox would like to move the most is Clay Buchholz, if only because his salary ($13.5 million) is easily the highest among the three the Sox would be willing to part with. Steven Wright has yet to qualify for salary arbitration and Drew Pomeranz will get a bump from last year, but will still be under $5 million after arbitration.

Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, almost certainly won't be dealt because of his youth and potential, though Dombrowski hinted that teams have checked on the availability of every starter except The Big Three of Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello "as well as guys who aren't (in the current major league picture like Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Roenis Elias).''

Depth in the rotation is always welcome, but the numbers are such that the Sox can't make the current group of seven starters work.

"You start counting,'' said Dombrowski, "and there's not enough spots for everybody on the team.''

It's possible that the Sox could go into spring training with all seven and wait to see if injuries elsewhere give them additional leverage.

But that, too, is unlikely.

"It seems like there's not a lot of moves made in spring training,'' he said.

As for what the Sox might be seeking in return, the Sox don't have any obvious need they have to fill. It's possible they could want to obtain some prospects to help restock the system after six were traded in two trades this week.

"I can't really answer that question.'' he said. "We've traded a lot (of prospects). We wouldn't mind replenishing some of what we've traded.''

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Felger: Crazy can be good, but Sale needs to harness it

Chris Sale brings with him to Boston some attitude. He also brings a measure of defiance and, perhaps, a little bit of crazy.

All of which the Red Sox starting staff just may need. And if Sale pitches as he has for much of the past five years, he'll probably be celebrated for it.

I still wonder how it will all play here, especially if he underachieves.

What would we do to him locally if he refused to pitch because he didn't like a certain kind of uniform variation the team was going with? What would we say if he not only refused to pitch, but took a knife to his teammates' uniforms and the team had to scrap the promotion? Sale did exactly that in Chicago last year, after which he threw his manager under the bus for not standing by his players and attacked the team for putting business ahead of winning.

All because he didn't want to wear an untucked jersey?

"(The White Sox throwback uniforms) are uncomfortable and unorthodox,'' said Sale at the time. "I didn't want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn't want anything to alter my mechanics. ... There's a lot of different things that went into it.''

Wearing a throwback jersey would alter his mechanics? Was that a joke? It's hard to imagine he would get away with that in Boston.

Ditto for his support of Adam LaRoche and his involvement of that goofy story last March.
 
LaRoche, you'll remember, retired when the White Sox had the nerve to tell him that his 14-year-old son could not spend as much time around the team as he had grown accustomed to. Sale responded by pitching a fit.

“We got bald-face lied to by someone we’re supposed to be able to trust,'' said Sale of team president Kenny Williams. ``You can’t come tell the players it was the coaches and then tell the coaches it was the players, and then come in and say something completely different. If we’re all here to win a championship, this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

On what planet does allowing a 14-year-old kid in a clubhouse have anything to do with winning a title? In what universe does a throwback jersey have anything to do with mechanics? If David Price had said things that stupid last year, he'd still be hearing about it. And it won't be any different for Sale.

Thankfully, Sale's defiance and feistiness extends to the mound. Sale isn't afraid to pitch inside and protect his teammates, leading the American League in hit batsmen each of the last two years. He doesn't back down and loves a fight. And while that makes him sound a little goofy off the field, it should play well on it.

In the meantime, the Sox better hope he likes those red alternate jerseys they wear on Fridays.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast appears daily on CSN.