Wait-and-see approach for Valentine in clubhouse
FORT MYERS, Fla.—Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine denied on Monday that his clubhouse alcohol ban was a public relations move, and pitcher Josh Beckett blamed "snitches" for leaking the story about players drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games while the team was plummeting to an unprecedented September collapse.
Valentine instituted the ban in response to postseason reports that Red Sox pitchers, including Beckett, hung out in the clubhouse on their off-nights eating and drinking instead of sitting in the dugout with their teammates. The Red Sox went 7-20 in September to finish one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card race.
After the season, manager Terry Francona was let go, and general manager Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs. Francona is now an analyst with ESPN, and he said on a radio show on Monday that the ban on clubhouse beer was "a PR move."
"I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one," Francona said. "I don't think it's a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It's probably more of a PR move just because the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year."
Valentine, who announced the ban on Saturday, said more than half of the teams in the majors ban alcohol in the clubhouse.
"How is it PR," Valentine asked after the team's Monday workout. "That means like 20 teams are looking for PR and that's why they're making good decisions?"
Asked if Francona's comments might add a little spice to the first Sunday night Red Sox game he's scheduled to work, Valentine said: "I doubt it."
"Remember you get paid over there for saying stuff," said Valentine, who had been an analyst at ESPN before essentially switching jobs with Francona. "You get paid over here for doing stuff."
But Valentine said he would wait to see if Beckett's comments need to be addressed.
"Teams are built on trust, right, and teamwork. They're probably the two most important things that championship teams have," he said. "So, if there is distrust, I think it eventually would have to be addressed. But in my experience those things usually present themselves."
Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004-2011, winning the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007. But Boston stumbled in September, and missed the postseason despite big-money acquisitions like outfielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Following the collapse, Boston declined to exercise Francona's 2012 option.
Valentine was hired to replace him, vowing to leave last season's collapse behind.
"I don't think you turn the page on it, personally," Valentine said. "I don't know if I ever said that. If I did, give me the right to change my mind. You work through things, and time's a great healer but it's not the only healer. If someone was burned in there, it's going to take some time for the sting to leave.
"And it's probably going to take some actions. I don't know that they have to be in a meeting forum or caucusing, small groups, big groups. As I say, usually they'll present themselves and when they do, then you'll find the true spirit."
Valentine said he has talked with other players who have expressed similar sentiments to Beckett.
"Saying `forget it' is like saying `relax,'" he said. "Those words mean nothing. You have to learn it takes breathing and confidence and all those wonderful things to relax. And it takes time and possibly, at times, apologies. But apologies come with actions to heal. So, I don't think we can just (say) `OK, we're going to have a meeting. OK, forget it, and now we're turning the page. That's it. It's over.'
"No, thank you. I don't particularly believe that."