When Josh Beckett missed a start because of a sore lower back earlier this month, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was asked by a reporter if the righthander would pitch in the bullpen before he returned to the mound.
Valentine said he didn’t know for sure, but imagined that Beckett would.
A day later, when asked the same question, Valentine smiled and shook his head.
“I probably should know that, right?” he said.
Beckett’s locker is seven steps from Valentine’s office at Fenway Park. A dozen steps the other way is the office pitching coach Bob McClure shared with the other coaches, before he was fired on Monday. But somehow Valentine did not know, or wasn’t properly informed, about the readiness of one of his most important players.
As the Red Sox stagger to the end of what could be their third consecutive season without a spot in the playoffs, broken lines of communication are one of the underlying reasons for their 59-63 record. What was once a model organization is now marked by distrust and the inability of team executives, coaches, and players to work cohesively.
Players take their concerns directly to general manager Ben Cherington or even owner John Henry, bypassing baseball’s usual chain of command at several levels.
Even elemental issues such as determining when a player will get a day off to care for an injury have become contentious.
“I think all of us can safely say we made some mistakes,” McClure said last week.
Until recent weeks, after all sides agreed to try harder to make it work, Valentine’s conversations with McClure were dominated by one- or two-word sentences. Bench coach Tim Bogar and bullpen coach Gary Tuck spoke to the manager even less at times.
Valentine, in the first year of a two-year contract, had one group of coaches he bonded with (those he had a hand in hiring) and another he didn’t (those he inherited).
“After a while, I just figured that was the way it was going to be,” Valentine said. “If I needed information, I found a way to get it.”
The situation grew so tense in late June that Bogar and McClure, two of the coaches Valentine inherited, considered asking for reassignment within the organization, according to two major league sources.
Cherington stepped in shortly after, urging Valentine and the coaches to put aside their differences.
“There was an effort made on everyone’s part,’’ Cherington said in an interview with the Globe Friday. “Every season in the big leagues, to me anyway, is a precious opportunity. We owed it to each other to do whatever we could to take advantage of that opportunity. There was renewed commitment to communication. It hasn’t translated into wins on the field as much as we’ve wanted.”
The discord filtered into the clubhouse, leaving the players wedged in the middle or forced to take sides. Former manager Terry Francona used his bench coaches, first Brad Mills and then DeMarlo Hale, as liaisons to the players. They quietly kept the players informed about what Francona was planning, and disagreements were largely handled before they became public.
Under Valentine, that pipeline never opened because he and Bogar did not get along.
Bogar spends ample time with the players, often pulling up a chair in the clubhouse to talk to small groups. But he and Valentine, until recent weeks, spoke only when necessary. Even during games, they rarely stood together.
As a player, Bogar was released by Valentine in 1997, and was bitter about it at the time. Bogar denied that was the cause of the friction between the two — “Come on, that was  years ago,” he said — but acknowledged their relationship has been rocky.
“It took some time for everybody to get on the right page,” Bogar said. “Communication is body language, it’s how you ask questions. The way certain people do it and the way other people do it, it’s hard to decipher what exactly the meaning is. It took a long time to go in the right direction.
“Communication has to work upward and downward. If you consider [the coaches] between the players and the manager, then we have to work down and work up. It has to be circular. If it’s not circular, it doesn’t work.”
When those circles led to dead ends, some of the players interceded. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez has attempted to serve as a bridge between the factions, taking concerns the coaches had about Valentine’s strategy back to the manager.
David Ortiz, the team’s longest-tenured player, also supported Valentine and urged teammates to do the same.
“I think Bobby has tried to do the right things for this team,” Ortiz said. “Some people are with him, some people are not. But we’re supposed to be a team. The situation hasn’t been good sometimes.”Continued...