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Valentine regrets not having had backup plans

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  April 30, 2012 05:09 PM

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Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine met with reporters before Monday night's game against the Oakland A's at Fenway Park and discussed a number of topics, candidly admitting to "kicking myself for not having a what-if at the beginning of the season."

He was referring to a backup plan when projected closer Andrew Bailey went on the disabled list at the start of the season and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was placed on the 15-day disabled list after he suffered a subluxation of his right shoulder during a base-running incident in the April 13 home opener against Tampa Bay.

"The outfield and the bullpen, I didn't have a major plan for not having Ellsbury -- my fault, and I should've,'' Valentine said. "And not being too deep in the bullpen. The two guys we traded for during the winter time [Bailey and Mark Melancon], would be pitching in the ninth inning come April 13th.''

Asked if he's had to adjust on the fly, Valentine replied, "Absolutely -- that's what I'm doing. And I think you have to have plans. I'm kicking myself a little that I didn't have a great plan. But it's coming to fruition now. On the fly, the plan seems to be working.''

Other topics Valentine addressed:

* On RHP Aaron Cook, who has been toiling at Triple A Pawtucket and has a May 1 deadline to opt out of his contract if the Red Sox do not add him to the major league roster: "Ben [Cherington] was in this afternoon and we talked again on that and Iím sure he has all his ducks in order. Again, I donít know exactly when, why, how all these deadlines and stuff, but everybodyís opinion has been shared.

Asked if Cook, who has compiled a 3-0 record with a 1.89 ERA in five minor league starts with the PawSox this season, has been receptive to the thought of becoming a reliever, Valentine replied: "I havenít talked to him. I canít speak for him.''

So would that be the plan for him?

"If he came here, yes,'' Valentine said.

* On Clay Buchholz's improvement: "Iíve seen constant improvement, step-by step. He had a couple of bullpens in between starts where he looked really sharp. I think heís ready to do what he can do, consistently. Heís had all his pitches. He just hasnít strung them together like he can.

"Itís hard for me to tell, not judging it by what Iíve seen in the past. Iím just going by pitch by pitch and game by game. It seems to me when he has his changeup down and heís able to throw it when heís behind in the count and able to get some groundball outs, thatís going to be a plus. Heís a good pitcher. He just hasnít hit his stride yet."

* On his early impressions after Marlon Byrd's first week with the Red Sox: "Iím glad heís a Red Sock. [Sox hitting coach] Dave Magadan has worked with him so that heís more comfortable at the plate than he was before he got here and I think that will continue. Heís had some pretty good at-bats and played some pretty good center field."

* On when Daisuke Matsuzaka would make his next anticipated rehab start, for Pawtucket: "Maybe Friday, depending on the weather."

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