FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox pitchers will not be drinking beer in the clubhouse during games this season. In fact, there won’t be any beer at all.
Manager Bobby Valentine told the team today that he has banned alcohol in the clubhouse and on team flights returning to Boston.
The edict was expected given the news last fall that starting pitchers Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and John Lackey drank beer and ate fast-food chicken while games were going on last season.
But Valentine may have done it anyway, saying that alcohol was banned from the Mets clubhouse when he managed the team from 1996-2002.
“It’s just what I’ve always done,” he said. “I’m comfortable with it that way.”
The Red Sox are the 19th team to ban alcohol in the clubhouse, a list that includes the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and world champion Cardinals.
The alcohol ban on Boston-bound flights is a safety issue. Those charter flights typically arrive well after midnight and the players drive home from Fenway Park afterward.
Valentine was asked how the new rules were received.
“You mean like a standing ovation or booing? I didn’t get either of those,” he said. “It was probably somewhere right in between.”
Valentine isn’t expecting any resistance from the players — not that they have any choice in the matter.
"What would happen if they got traded to St. Louis? Would they refuse the trade? Or New York? Or one of the other 19 teams, or however many teams there are?” Valentine said. “I don't know. I doubt it. I don't know what kind of pushback you could get.”
David Ortiz, the team’s longest-tenured player, said he supported the ban.
“It doesn’t matter. We’re not here to drink; we’re here to play baseball. This ain’t no bar.” Ortiz said. “This is an organization, a place that needs a lot of athleticsm. Alcohol has nothing to do with that. We have alcohol in our houses. If you want to drink, drink at home.”
Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino did not comment on the subject, saying Valentine would speak for the team. In October, before Valentine was named manager, Lucchino said the team’s alcohol policy was being reviewed and the new manager’s input would be considered.
General manager Ben Cherington said Valentine recommended the change and he fully supported the idea.