Valentine remains optimistic despite start

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine met with the media before tonight’s game against the Indians and discussed a number of topics, most notably his take on the team’s poor (12-19) start this season.

“Very disappointed,” Valentine said, when asked to describe his level of disappointment. “I couldn’t be more disappointed. That is the bad news. The good news is that it’s going to get a lot better and I think it’s going to do that real soon.”

Why was he so optimistic about that?

“I just see the fight in the guys, I see what we have out there, against the competition we will prevail,” he said.

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* With all the fallout over Josh Beckett’s controversial golf outing, Valentine said it was “very tough for a manager to start legislating what guys do away from the park.” As such, Valentine said he was not in a position to determine on what a player does on his off day. “Unless it affects their performance on the field,” Valentine said. “It seems [Beckett] was healthy when he played, it seems it didn’t hurt him.”

* Despite Clay Buchholz’s 3-1 start and his league-worst 9.09 ERA, Valentine said it was not time to give up on the righthander. “I never give up on a player until he gives up and I haven’t seen that happen with Clay,” Valentine said. “He’s still working hard. He and [pitching coach] Bob McClure are trying to solve this puzzle and I’m confident the trust that I have in my coaches is going to pay off, because they’re going to solve the puzzle. But is it difficult? Yes.”

* Given the starting rotation’s continued struggles, Valentine said the solution was simple. “Pitch better,” he said. “I’m not going to start the bullpen and have the starters end the game, or any of that stuff. The guys we have designated as our starters just have to go out and pitch better. I have no other way to express that.”

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* Valentine said Daisuke Matsuzaka would make his fourth rehab start in his comeback from Tommy John surgery Saturday at Pawtucket. The Sox manager said Matsuzaka would likely increase his pitch count to 90 or so pitches. “I’d say he’s very close,” Valentine said. “He’s done everything except string those innings together.”

* Kevin Youkilis, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 2 with a lower back strain, began baseball activities Friday. “He played catch,” Valentine said. “He’s not swung yet. Talking to him yesterday, he said he was hoping to start swinging a bit.”

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