BOSTON The Red Sox players were understandably upbeat when learning about the vote of confidence emails and words submitted by Sox principal owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington on behalf of embattled manager Bobby Valentine.
The Sox are a decidedly mediocre 55-55 on the season after pasting the Texas Rangers by a 9-2 score at Fenway Park on Monday night, but Sox management and ownership backed Valentine before the first pitch was thrown.
The Sox skipper was a bit sheepish it had come to that point, but such is life when youre managing an underachieving ballclub with a 175 million payroll.
I regret that they had to do it. If our record was better then they wouldnt have to do it, said Valentine. Its totally appreciated, though, if they felt it was necessary and think it was good for the guys.
Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has caught fire since the All-Star break, but he was among many underachievers during the first half of the year.
So Gonzalez understands as well as anyone that the teams plight is on the players no matter what happens to their manager.
He deserves it. Its one of those things where he hasnt swung the bat all year. He hasnt pitched, said Gonzalez. Its us that are playing out there. The .500 record that we have right now is on us. Its not on Bobby. Everybody wants to make a big deal about that, but its not on Bobby. Its on us.
Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia took it one step further, and said that the players should collectively worry about the results on the field rather than anything else. Theyre nine games behind the Yankees in the AL East and four games behind the As and the Tigers in the wild card chase.
The Sox need to worry more about wins and less about the soap opera playing out along Yawkey Way with Valentine in the title role of Dudley Do-Wrong.
We need to focus on winning, you know? said Saltalamacchia. Thats the stuff that really isnt needed around here. We dont need that. We just need to go out there and play ball.
If we go out there and win then theres something to talk about. What were going to talk about is winning, and thats what were going to continue to talk about. Thats our focus.
More results will go a long way toward quelling the fire the manager talk, but the Sox have been unable to stabilize things over the first five months of the season, so its difficult to envision whats different about this same group of players now under the same embattled manager.