Lasorda has advice for Valentine

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Lasorda has advice for Valentine

DALLAS Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was first-round pick (fifth overall) of the Dodgers out of Rippowan High School in Stamford, Conn. The manager for his first four seasons was future Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. While Valentine played parts of10 major league seasons, the promise of his draft position never panned out, cut short by a leg injury that limited him to just 639 games with Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Mets and Mariners.

Since those early days, though, Lasorda has been a mentor and friend to Valentine. Lasorda knew early on Valentine would one day be a manager.

Ive seen him plan for a game, Lasorda said. Ive never seen many managers do that. He can plan for that game as good as anybody Ive ever seen.

He was one of my favorite players. He played for me in a rookie league. He played for me in Triple-A. He played for me in the Dominican Republic. So he asked me questions at all times.

Lasorda gave his counsel before Valentine took the Red Sox job with an ultimatum.

He always had a good job, Lasorda said. When you have a good job you always have an opportunity to get another job. But if you dont have a good job, its tough to get another job. He could have gone to two or three other clubs. I know I talked to clubs about him that called me and asked me. He could have gone with three clubs that I know of. But he didnt want to go. When the Boston opportunity came, he grabbed it. And I told him if he didnt, Id kick his ass.

Hes got a lot of enthusiasm. What hes got to do is take that team and get them all to play for the name on the front of their shirt and not for the name back of their shirt. If he can do that, then hell be successful.

But Lasorda knows that's not always easy.

Thats the ability that the manager has to have, Lasorda said. "To be able to put them all together, you got to get them all to be on one end of a rope and pull together. If you can do that, youre going to have success. But if half get on one end and half get on the other end, you can pull all day long. All youre doing is pulling against yourself. You got to take 25 guys and you got to make them believe that theyre the best in baseball, and he can do that.

While Valentine has been called, by turns, a genius and abrasive, brilliant and polarizing, Lasorda does not believe that Valentine's personality will get in the way of his new job.

Ive told him this; Hes got to get along with the general manager. Hes the boss, Lasorda said. And he should know that. He should realize that. In the 20 years I managed the dodgers, my general manager was the boss. And you figure this out. He gets you 25 players and he said, Heres your team. Go out and win. So you got to listen to him. You got to work with him. You got to understand him. And thats what I did for 20 years. The guy was the general manager. I had two general managers, and I feel the same way. Theyre the boss. Lets face it, their job is better or higher than yours. And you got to be together. You got to be good friends. You got to go out. AL Campanis, the general manager, we would discuss players 'til three in the morning. I said, Al, if you want me to say the same thing, youll go to the Grand Canyon. So I think I tried to do my best to always get along with the two general managers I had.

Lasorda thinks Bill Buckner, another long-time friend of Valentine, would be a good addition to the coaching staff.

I think that would be great, Lasorda said. "Buckner was an outstanding hitter. I think Buckner could relate to players. If he selects him, I think that would be a good selection.

Valentine, who turned 61 in May, has managed for 15 seasons in the major leagues, taking the Mets to the 2000 World Series, only to lose to the Yankees. While Lasorda sees the Sox offering Valentine another chance to win, Lasorda said theres another reason Valentine will enjoy managing in Boston.

Heres a place he wanted to come, Lasorda said. He could have been at a few other clubs. I know that. But he didn't want to be there. He wants to be here, Boston. He got the chance to manage Boston, he grabbed it real fast, because he loves Boston. There are a lot of Italians in Boston, and hell get along real good in the city.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.