BALTIMORE — Bobby Valentine met with the media before Thursday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles and discussed several topics with the media, including his ejection and that of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the eighth inning of Wednesday night’s 5-3 loss at Camden Yards. He also discussed Jacoby Ellsbury’s start at designated hitter tonight among other topics.
Valentine was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt in the eighth inning Wednesday night for arguing the case of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who complained about a quick-pitch delivery from reliever Pedro Strop and was ejected by Everitt.
Valentine said he didn’t invite an inquiry from MLB on the matter.
“Nah,” he said. “I’ll bet there’ll be a review of the situation sometime, somewhere — probably winter time, but I just hope somebody doesn’t have to get hit in the head for them to understand the intent of the rule. It’s a pretty simple thing.”
Rule 8.05 (e) in the MLB rule book plainly states “a quick pitch is an illegal pitch,” which warrants the batter taking a ball and, if a runner is on base, a pitcher being charged with a balk. The rule is aimed at preventing the pitcher from delivering the ball before a batter has an opportunity to take his position in the batter’s box. The quick pitch, the rule states, is considered dangerous and shall not be permitted.
“It’s just for the safety,” Valentine said. “I didn’t like the outs, either, but as I said, my guy [Franklin Morales] tried to get away with it, too. I’m not saying anything other than what it is. If you get away with it, fine. But it should be reviewed.”
— Ellsbury became the 10th different player to start at the DH position. The Red Sox center fielder, who had been nursing an unspecified “leg injury”, was able to rest without being out of the lineup and imperiling his 38-game hitting streak vs. the Orioles, which ranks as the second longest in MLB vs. one team since 1900. Vlad Guerrero’s 44-game hitting streak vs. the Rangers from 2004-06 ranks as the longest such streak in MLB history.
“The last couple of days we’ve just been concerned about the a little leg situation,” Valentine said. “This is just being a little overcautious and aware of the situation. I asked him if he wanted a day off and he said, ‘Absolutely not. No,no,no,no,no — a hundred times no.’ I want to play, so he’s DH’ing tonight.”
Valentine declined to clarify the nature of Ellsbury’s “leg situation.”
“I don’t know if he likes that,” he said. “I don’t know if guys like any of that stuff. Some guys don’t like to talk about it . . . It’s a situation that we don’t want it to be a big thing in talking about it or having it become a big thing.”
Ellsbury started the first seven games of the season before suffering a subluxation of his right shoulder and missing the next 79 games on the DL beginning April 14. Since his return from the DL July 13, Ellsbury has had hits in 21 of 30 games, hitting .286 (36-for-126) in that stretch with 12 doubles, a home run, 8 RBIa, 19 runs and 6 stolen bases.
“I’m really glad that he’s back,” Valentine said. “His presence is very important on the team and his production, again, I’m very satisfied with what he’s doing. You guys have a vision of what he did last year and how excellent he was in every facet, every minute of the game. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s plenty good for me.”
— With Gonzalez’s ejection Wednesday, Nick Punto was deployed as the team’s emergency first baseman. Valentine was asked if that situation give him pause to re-evaluate who will serve as Gonzalez’s backup in the event of another emergency.
“Well, I guess Nick has been there and so has Dan Valencia and so has Salty, in a spot,” Valentine said. “We’ve kind of visited that.”
Asked if catcher Ryan Lavarnway was ever an option there, Valentine replied, “He says he hasn’t taken ground balls there this year. He’s more of an emergency option in the outfield. He shags [flies], and looks good, too.”
— Daisuke Matsuzaka had an interesting outing in his fourth rehab start with Triple A Pawtucket in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night in the first game of a doubleheader against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Matsuzaka allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings, throwing four scoreless innings before getting into a jam in the fifth. “I’m very encouraged by what I heard. I didn’t see it,” Valentine said. “Arnie [Beyeler, the Pawtucket manager] and Rich [Sauveur, the PawSox pitching coach] said it was his best stuff that he’s had in a while. We’ll take it to the next step and then we’ll know what we have.”
— A day after he made a statement clarifying the fact that players did not call for Valentine to be removed from his job, as detailed in a Yahoo! Sports report Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and team president/CEO Larry Lucchino were all present at batting practice.