Sox owner denies report that players called for Valentine's firing
BOSTON -- None of the Boston Red Sox players in a series of meetings with the team's top brass called for manager Bobby Valentine to be replaced, owner John Henry said Wednesday.
Henry issued a statement one day after Yahoo! Sports reported that several players met with him and team president Larry Lucchino in New York on July 27 to complain about Valentine's handling of the team. Chairman Tom Werner was also at the meeting.
Henry said he called the meeting, and it "quickly went to the point -- what do we need to do to turn things around?"
"No one in that meeting at any time took the position that Bobby should be or needed to be replaced," Henry wrote.
Henry said players took responsibility for the team's performance; the Red Sox were 57-60, 12 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, heading into Wednesday night's game in Baltimore against the Orioles.
"They weren't blaming injuries or anyone but themselves," Henry wrote. "At the same time they openly spoke about what could improve in addition to their play. They made substantive points. We addressed those points."
Valentine also declined to point fingers.
"Personally, I think we're in it together," he said. "I think we're going to get hot."
Henry said he called a similar meeting "about this time eight years ago," a reference to the 2004 season in which the Red Sox won the World Series for first time in 86 years. This time, the meeting was divided up into three parts, Henry said, "separating groups so as to have frank discussions about what was wrong."
Henry also complained in his statement about the details of the meeting going public.
"I understand that when the team isn't playing up to our standards that issues are going to be sensationalized," he wrote. "But what is important for Red Sox fans to know is that ownership, players and all staff especially Bobby Valentine are determined to turn around what has thus far been an unacceptable, failed season. We are all on the same page in that regard and will not waver."
Valentine also said he regretted that details of the meeting had gone public, but he said that the controversy hasn't weighed on him.
"If we were 10 games over .500 and in first place, he wouldn't have to make any statements," the manager said.
Valentine was hired last offseason to replace Terry Francona, who was let go after the team went 7-20 in September to blow what had seemed like a certain playoff berth. Valentine said he wanted to change the culture of a clubhouse where players ate fried chicken and drank beer during games, rather than sitting in the dugout to support their teammates.
Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz defended the manager.
"He does his job," Buchholz said. "When something goes wrong, somebody has to be blamed for it and it's usually us. ... He's doing a good job. It's a game, man, it doesn't always work."
Valentine said he planned to be back in the 2013 season.
"And ‘14 and ‘15," he said. "That's what I'm hoping."