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Valentine's sorry that you're sorry that he kept his job after meeting with Henry
Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine has plenty of reasons to be down with the way this season has gone. (Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIRE)
In an awkward, sometimes testy, pregame session with reporters Monday, embattled Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine discussed his breakfast meeting with principal owner John Henry.
"What do you think, we talked about art? Liverpool?" Valentine said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "We talked about baseball and our team, obviously. Things that he's concerned about, and things that I deal with."
Henry met the Red Sox in Seattle for what he described as a "fact-finding" visit to determine why things have spiraled so far out of control for Valentine and the team. The Red Sox have lost seven consecutive games, including Monday's 4-1 decision against the Mariners, by a combined margin of 58-16, and they have dropped to a season-high 12 games under. 500.
News of Henry's arrival was met with speculation that Valentine would be fired. Instead, Henry reiterated that ownership is "resolute" that Valentine will keep his job for the rest of the season, a position that is unchanged from last month and likewise won't dissolve any speculation about Valentine's future. Valentine is under contract for one more year, but neither Henry, team chairman Tom Werner, president Larry Lucchino nor general manager Ben Cherington has made a commitment to him beyond this season.
Nevertheless, breakfast with Henry seemed to have brought the feistiness out of Valentine, who has appeared to grow increasingly weary over the past week. Asked how frequently he has spoken to Henry this season, Valentine said, "More than any owner I've ever worked for."
"To any of you that are sorry I didn't get fired, I'm sorry that you're sorry," Valentine said.
Valentine didn't get into specifics about the meeting.
"I always feel good after breakfast," Valentine said. "It's one of my favorite meals."
Meanwhile, Cherington conceded that the Red Sox's struggles in the aftermath of the Aug. 25 blockbuster trade with the Dodgers can't be an easy reality for Valentine. And in some ways, losing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford from the lineup may help explain Valentine's strange answers to seemingly innocuous questions like why outfielder Scott Podsednik batted third for the first time in his career Saturday in Oakland.
"Just a mistake," Valentine said in the wake of that move.
Cherington said, "When the manager is in the middle of it and he's the one who has to answer the questions after the game every day, it's hard. I feel for him. I'm sure at times frustration comes out. The truth is he's working with a roster, some of which is we're finding out about guys. It's not as easy to write out the lineup as he thought it might be in spring training. That would be frustrating for anyone."
2B Dustin Pedroia accomplished two things in the first inning Monday. With a double against Mariners LHP Jason Vargas, Pedroia notched his 1,000th career hit in his 833rd game, becoming the sixth-fastest Red Sox player to reach the mark. Only Nomar Garciaparra (746 games), Wade Boggs (747 games), Johnny Pesky (774 games), Ted Williams (814 games) and Jim Rice (827 games) got to 1,000 hits in fewer games. Pedroia also extended his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games. He's 22-for-57 (.386) during the streak.
C Ryan Lavarnway is getting a chance to prove he's worthy of getting more time behind the plate for the Red Sox next season. However, Lavarnway made a blunder in the fourth inning Monday against the Mariners. With the Sox trailing 2-1, CF Jacoby Ellsbury caught Eric Thames' fly ball and made a throw to the plate that was off-line but still would have prevented John Jaso from scoring from third base. But Lavarnway allowed the ball to squirt by him, and Jaso scored to give the Mariners a 3-1 lead. "I wish they'd given me that error," Lavarnway said after the miscue was charged to Ellsbury. "Jacoby is trying to get the guy out. He did exactly what he should have. I played it into an in-between hop. I need to go out and smother that ball and absolutely need to keep it in front of me."
SS Jose Iglesias is a dazzling defensive player, but he made a costly error in the fourth inning of Monday's 4-1 loss to the Mariners. Iglesias bobbled Carlos Peguero's grounder while trying to start a double play, allowing Justin Smoak to score from third base for the Mariners' fourth run. "He was just being too quick," manager Bobby Valentine said. "Lost the handle." It was an uncharacteristic error for Iglesias. His issues stem from his offensive weakness, and despite a strong August for Pawtucket, he's 0-for-16 with five strikeouts since being called up nearly 10 days ago. In the seventh inning, Iglesias was lifted for PH Ivan De Jesus Jr., acquired in the Aug. 25 blockbuster with the Dodgers. "He'll get his hits," Valentine said of Iglesias, "but I didn't think that (with) the matchup at that time it was going to happen."
RHP Chris Carpenter is best known in his brief tenure with the Red Sox for being acquired as compensation from the Chicago Cubs for the departure of former GM Theo Epstein. Now, Carpenter has a chance to make an impression. Carpenter was called up from Class AAA Pawtucket and made his debut Monday in the eighth inning against the Mariners. Carpenter faced two batters, walking Trayvon Robinson and getting Miguel Olivo to ground into a forceout. His fastball reached 97 mph on the radar gun. "He's got a couple of pitches that are pretty hard to hit when they're down," manager Bobby Valentine said. "Good fastball, good slider."
DH David Ortiz won't rejoin the Red Sox until Friday at Fenway Park, at which point the team hopes to have a better idea of whether he will play again this season. "I hope so. I think he hopes so," GM Ben Cherington said. "That's what we're working towards. We'll see. He's feeling better." Ortiz has played only one game since straining his right Achilles tendon on July 16. After aggravating the injury Aug. 24, he received a platelet-rich plasma injection designed to help speed the healing process.
CF Jacoby Ellsbury and LF Ryan Kalish, who were unavailable Sunday due to wrist and shoulder ailments, respectively, were back in the lineup Monday. Ellsbury went 0-for-4, while Kalish finished 2-for-4.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Consecutive losses for the Red Sox, a season-worst losing streak. They have been outscored 58-16 during the streak.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "To any of you who are sorry that I'm not getting fired, I'm sorry that you're sorry. I don't think I did (get fired) this morning, if anybody thought that was going to happen." -- Manager Bobby Valentine, after meeting with Red Sox principal owner John Henry on Monday.