When Alfredo Aceves wasn’t used as the closer on the night of Aug. 25, he tore off his Red Sox jersey in the bullpen then angrily confronted Bobby Valentine in the clubhouse. Their discussion was heated and Aceves slammed the office door on his way out. That led to Aceves being suspended for three days.
Note: Aceves had thrown 37 pitches the night before and allowed five runs.
On Wednesday night, Aceves was pitching in the seventh inning when Derek Jeter singled, Curtis Granderson hit a rocket out to right field and Nick Swisher pounded a double to center.
When Valentine came to take him out, Aceves acted unprofessionally. He handed the ball to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to give to Valentine, then walked in a circuitous route back to the dugout, taking great and public pains to avoid his manager.
Note: Valentine has been a staunch supporter of Aceves since the start of spring training. He liked him as a starter. He made him the closer when Andrew Bailey was injured and he supported him after all eight of his blown saves.
The Red Sox need to further discipline Aceves today and releasing him should not be out of the question. It doesn’t matter if Valentine is a lame duck, Daffy Duck or Scrooge McDuck, you can’t let players disrespect the manager like that.
Aceves is an exceedingly talented pitcher and fears no situation on the mound. But the Yankees got tired of his act and released him after he spent a year dawdling on the disabled list and then broke his collarbone in a bicycle accident that was never fully explained to their satisfaction.
He irritated Joe Girardi and Terry Francona and now he defies Valentine. Somebody needs to sit Aceves down and tell him he’s not bigger than the teams he plays for. The guy is blowing what should be a long and prosperous career.
Also . . .
• Imagine being Ben Cherington trying to evaluate your shortstops on Wednesday. Jose Iglesias made a ridiculous play in the fifth inning that saved a run when he ranged behind second base to smother a ball and made a quick throw to first to get Robbie Cano.
In the bottom of the inning, with a runner on third, he took a called third strike with two outs. Iglesias is 2 for 24 at the plate this season and one of the hits was a bad-hop double.
Mike Aviles pinch hit for Iglesias in the seventh inning and doubled in a run. He now has 60 RBIs and 41 extra-base hits.
It’s an age-old baseball question: Go with the better glove at an important defensive position or go with the better bat? Here’s the thing: Aviles has been, at worst, a totally fine defensive shortstop. But the temptation is there with the kid because he is just that good in the field.
• Then there’s this: Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki would welcome going to a new team, we’ve been told. The Red Sox will make their splashes in the trade market this winter, not the free agent market.
• A lot of readers have asked for an opinion about Pedro Ciriaco. I think his ceiling is being a bench player in the majors. He has speed, defensive versatility and a little pop in his bat. But facts are facts: He turns 27 in two weeks and has a .314 on-base percentage. This is not an undiscovered gem, this is a player who has usable skills off the bench.
• Asked on Twitter last night if Red Sox fans would like to see Swisher, a pending free agent, at first base next season. The answers were generally either heck yes or heck no.
If Swisher were willing to settle for a reasonable deal, he would be a good pickup. He works counts, hits for power and can handle the market. But he wants a huge deal, which is certainly his right. If he can get one, good for him.
If he has to settle for a reasonable deal, bet Yankees will probably give it to him.
• When did Granderson become Dave Kingman? 37 home runs and 170 strikeouts this season. He has a .324 OBP.
• The 2013 schedule includes 19 games against divisional foes, up from 18. That seems like too many.
• Interesting nugget from Bobby V last night: Junichi Tazawa insists his teammates and coaches speak English to him. Because he started his pro career in the U.S. in the minors, Tazawa has acclimated better to such things as weight room workouts and throwing programs. He’s also part of the team when you speak to guys who came up with him.
It’s a tricky thing with players from Japan for obvious reasons. Hideki Matsui has always had an inclusive personality and was beloved as a teammate. But Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka come off as independent contractors, guys who are on their own program and almost dismissive of everybody else.
Tazawa has a chance to be a big part of the 2013 team.
• Manager Arnie Beyeler and the Pawtucket Red Sox are a win away from the International League title. Beyeler deserves a ton of credit given that his roster changes virtually every day.
When the Sox remake their major league coaching staff for next season, Beyeler is somebody who should be carefully considered. With so many younger players being worked in, it would make sense to have somebody who knows them well.
One non-baseball thought:
• UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun will announce his retirement today. My first job out of UMass was covering UConn for the Norwich (Conn.) Bulletin. Calhoun was in his first season and was, frankly, terrifying.
In 1986, the idea of UConn winning three NCAA titles was laughable. They were such a bad team in the Big East that the school commissioned a study to determine whether they should remain in the league. The team practiced in the old UConn Field House and if the track team was working out, a basketball player chasing a loose ball had to dodge runners.
Calhoun worked the Huskies like dogs and was even hard on the writers. If you wrote something he didn’t like, he would call early in the morning and tell you in no uncertain (and unprintable) terms what he thought. But when you showed up to cover practice a few hours later, it was like it never happened.
If you hustled after stories, you would get them. If you showed up at practice, he would tell you things. Calhoun was so desperate for media attention on his team that he would talk to a stupid kid from a small paper and answer all his questions.
This may sound silly and if it does, that’s fine. But I tried harder at my job because I didn’t want him to think less of me. Sitting there at practice and hearing him preach the values of hard work to his players sank in. The effect was profound.
Calhoun grew up in blue-collar Braintree and loves his Red Sox. After one of his three titles, the Yankees invited him to throw out the first pitch at a game and he refused. He might be the only person who has ever done that.
UConn’s victory against Duke in the 1999 NCAA title game was Calhoun at his best. In the years that followed, we sometimes saw Calhoun at his worst. UConn broke rules, the players were lax academically and Calhoun lost control of the powerhouse he built because he so badly wanted to win. He made mistakes and if you think poorly of him for that, you aren’t wrong.
But the man could coach, he worked hard and he built one of the best programs ever out of rubble. A lot of people are better off in their lives for knowing him and I’m one of them. Here is wishing him well in retirement with the hope he finds some peace in that raging soul of his.