Valentine on McClure dismissal: Time for a new voice


Valentine on McClure dismissal: Time for a new voice

Bobby Valentine, tacitly acknowledging that he and former pitching coach Bob McClure had some issues along the way, said the reason behind McClure's dismissal Monday was to provide"a little different voice in the clubhouse'' and a "stabilizing force.''

"Obviously, coming into a situation, there were adjustments that he and I were making as year went along,'' said Valentine. "I thought we were making them. (But) at this time, with six weeks to go, we thought that maybe a little different voice in the clubhouse would make a little difference.''

Recounting the hiring process last winter, Valentine seemed to refute the notion that McClure was hired without the manager's input.

"He came in and he interviewed,'' said Valentine. "I liked the interview. I continued to interview people. Then, we were running out of time and he was the best candidate out there, I felt and Ben felt. If that means he was my choice, he was my choice.

"I didn't have someone I was going to take over him.''

Speaking about some communications issues within the organization, though not specifically about McClure, Valentine admitted that communication has been a problem "at times . . . It's not one person that delivers messages and I think there have been some breakdowns -- maybe from Ben (Cherington) to the training room, that goes through my office, to the coach's office, to the clubhouse, to the training room, or however we want that to be set up.

"There's probably been a few glitches and coming in, I expected them. Someone would be a fool not to. There's always problems getting the word out properly.''

Randy Niemann, who replaces McClure, becomes the fourth Red Sox pitching coach since the end of the 2010 season, and the Sox run the risk of again, having their pitchers hear a different voice when it comes to approach and philosophy.

"Since Randy's been here (all year),'' said Valentine, "I'm not sure that idea really applies. And he did it for a few weeks ago without a wrinkle (when McClure went home to attend to a medical situation with one of his children). I think of (Niemann) as one of this year's pitching
coaches right from the beginning. And (bullpen coach) Gary Tuck is a kind of a constant, too, and I think he'll take a little role in this six-week project, too.''

Niemann, Valentine said, has "a common sense approach to things. He's worked with all the guys on rehab this year. He's been totally in charge of that, so I think they understand that he understands their throwing motions. He was in the bullpen for a couple of weeks when Gary
wasn't here, so the relievers got to know him in game situations.

"He was in the dugout for a couple of weeks when Bob wasn't here. What he brings is what is needed -- a nice stabilizing force.''

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.