- Posted: 5:43 PM, August 14, 2012
A Yahoo! Sports report claims that Red Sox stars, led by Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, had a heated meeting with Red Sox owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino to complain about manager Bobby Valentine. That meeting occurred at The Palace hotel in Manhattan on July 26 before Boston opened a three-game series against the Yankees, and was a preceded by an angry text message sent by Gonzalez representing the upset players.
The players' frustration, which has been a season-long problem, bubbled over when Valentine left Jon Lester in a July 22 game when he was getting shelled for 11 runs over five innings in a loss to the Blue Jays.
The report breaks down not only a growing chasm between Valentine and his top players, but also those players and their teammates, who believe Boston's stars underperforming are the source of the team's disappointing season. Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, who like Valentine is in his first season, confirmed the meeting to Yahoo.
"The intent of the meeting was to provide a forum for people to express whatever frustration needed to be expressed at a time during the season when things were not going exactly the way we wanted to on the field in hopes that we could put whatever issues were there aside and focus on playing games the rest of the season," Cherington told the website. "That was the intent of the meeting. That was the focus of ownership. It was a productive meeting. Since then, we have not gone on the run we were supposed to."
But it did prompt the owners and GM to throw their support behind Valentine, who has presided over a 57-59 season in his first year managing in the majors since he was fired by the Mets after the 2002 season.
The players anger was based on the incident involving Lester, Valentine's early-season showdown with the recently-traded Kevin Youkilis and saying "Nice inning, kid" to rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks after a defensive mistake. That has led to open disrespect and mocking of Valentine within the Red Sox clubhouse.
Terry Francona, who was fired after last season's collapse and now works with ESPN, came in to the clubhouse prior to that series finale against the Yankees. Francona was talking with Pedroia when several other players joined, and Francona remained for 45 minutes. Francona, who led Boston to two World Series before being ousted, later apologized for the incident.
But Valentine's relationship problems with his team runs much deeper than Francona, as players also complain about a lack of availability and too much time spent in his office.
"I don't think it's that uncommon for complaints to be made during the season," Cherington said. "I'm not going to comment specifically on those complaints. Our owners felt, given where we were at that time in the season, given the collective frustration, we had not accomplished what we wanted to. It was time to get together and hash things out. There were no ultimatums issued. There were concerns expressed. Some very positive things expressed, too. We felt that it was an opportunity to get things off people's chests and move forward."