Coming off a historic collapse to finish 2011 and an offseason in which they disappointed at least a faction of their rabid fan base by failing to address a questionable rotation, the Boston Red Sox kick off their 2012 season Thursday in Detroit. Making matters worse, Boston will be without closer Andrew Bailey indefinitely and uncertainly still surrounds Josh Beckett’s health.
Oh, and new manager Bobby Valentine is already taking criticism for the way in which he deals with his players.
Bobby Valentine joined WEEI in Boston to discuss his closer situation in light of Andrew Bailey’s thumb injury as well as Josh Beckett’s injury (also to the thumb). But the real drama came when Valentine was asked to respond to Curt Schilling’s criticism of the way he operates the clubhouse.
On if the opening-day roster has 13 pitchers due to the injury to closer Andrew Bailey:
“Absolutely, yeah. We have a starting staff and a group of guys who are gonna be in the bullpen that will just try to protect as we’re sorting this thing out.”
On Alfredo Aceves replacing Bailey in that role for the time being:
“Well, just taking consensus of the coaching staff and talking to some of the players, you know this is a guy who could go out there and has what it takes to get the last out of the game. We have Mark Melancon who’s already done that also, so he’ll be in that mix. But starting off, I think Alfredo, if anyone, has the credentials.”
On him allegedly claiming that Josh Beckett’s thumb injury isn’t a big deal:
“No, I think the first thing I said was it is a big deal. Any time there’s any concern with any of my players, it’s a very big deal with me. I think I wanted to call it just a situation that was being dealt with.”
On why, if it’s just a “situation,” Beckett had to consult with three separate doctors:
“I think you’d have to ask the guys who are making those decisions and our medical staff and Josh. I think it’s to make sure that everybody was agreeing on whatever situation we were dealing with.
On if there’s any doubt he’s pitching Saturday:
On what he expects from Beckett Saturday in terms of longevity:
“Yeah, I think he can go as long as he needs to go or as long as he tells us he’s capable of going. The last conversation — and I’m going to have a conversation with Josh here after this interview and after he gets out of the weight room — but he just came back today and when he left he said his back never felt better, his legs never felt better and his arm never felt better. And he wants to just make sure that his thumb is going to match the rest of his body. So if his head feels clear enough that this situation is something he can pitch with all year long, I expect him to be one of our best pitchers, one of the best pitchers in this league.”
On his decision to keep Daniel Bard in the rotation despite the hole in the bullpen:
“Obviously everything’s discussed, and during this discussion, at the end of the discussion it was unanimously agreed upon with everybody who was talking that this was the time to keep Daniel exactly where he’s been all spring training. And it would be not fair to him at this time to shift gears.”
On if he’s had any players come to him recently to express concerns about the way in which he manages the clubhouse:
“Are you serious? No. I guess you are serious because you asked the question, but sometimes I gotta ask that. Spring training is not a clubhouse situation. You’re not dealing with 25 guys who are all sensitive to every little thing that goes on, because in spring training everyone’s going about their own business. It’s a very individual, let’s-get-ready-for-the-season situation. So I think everyone’s jumping the gun there. I think before it’s all over, someone’s going to say I’m either too loud or too soft. I’m either too Italian or not Italian enough, or that there’s something that they either do really like or think that possibly they don’t like. And I think if everyone’s truthful on every team, you’re going to see that in 30 different cities. And if we win enough, it won’t be an issue at all.”
On if he saw Curt Schilling’s comments claiming that he isn’t the right guy to manage the Red Sox:
“I never saw them. I heard about them, and I basically think that it’s irrelevant. … Because it was something about something that he knows nothing about, obviously. He never played for me, he’s never been in uniform with me, and he hasn’t been in this clubhouse during the spring.”
On the idea that Schilling was doing his job as an analyst, and that he’d been critical of players in the past while also working in television:
“Guys, I know where we’re going with this. If you watch someone play and you make a critical analysis of what you see, that’s one thing. You jump off the ladder on what you think might be the right thing to say because you have some cockamamie thought, that’s another thing. When I was in that position, I was paid to say what I saw, and I did. … Just say what you see, not what you think. Don’t make stuff up.”
On if he and Schilling don’t get along:
“I don’t think so. I know that he was Tito’s (Terry Francona’s) main guy and maybe it’s just the fact that I’m in that position and he wants to make sure that things don’t go well. Who knows? The only time that we were ever in uniform together, I was hoping he would be my all-star starter, and that didn’t turn out — he decided not to pitch in the 2001 all-star game.”