Sports

Valentine: “Teams Are Built On Trust. . . And Teamwork”

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Bobby Valentine (Elsa/Getty Images Sport)

Bobby Valentine (Elsa/Getty Images Sport)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) _ Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett claimed, in a weekend interview, there were “snitches” in the clubhouse last fall, after Boston completed the worst collapse in baseball history.

After the season, in which the Red Sox went 7-20 in September to miss the postseason, there were reports of unseemly behavior in the clubhouse during games, including beer drinking and fried chicken eating. Beckett was at the center of those reports.

On Monday, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he would wait to see if the situation needs to be tended to.

“I’m not sure about addressing it,” Valentine said. “Maybe as the group gets smaller. If it seems like that is a situation that is festering, that it hasn’t come to a head by the time March, whatever, comes around, maybe.

“I don’t know.”

Asked if it could become a problem, Valentine expounded.

“It could, yeah. Teams are built on trust, right, and teamwork. They’re probably the two most important things that championship teams have,” he said. “So, if there is distrust, I think it eventually would have to be addressed. But in my experience those things usually present themselves.”

The Red Sox clubhouse was the theme of the day Monday at camp, especially after former manager Terry Francona, on ESPN Radio, called Valentine’s ban on beer in the clubhouse a “PR move.”

“I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one,” Francona said. “I don’t think it’s a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It’s probably more of a PR move just because the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year.”

In announcing the ban on Saturday, though, Valentine said he has had similar bans other places he has managed.

“I don’t know. How is it PR,” Valentine asked after the team’s Monday workout. “That means like 20 teams are looking for PR and that’s why they’re making good decisions?”

Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004-2011, winning the World Series twice (2004, 2007). But Boston stumbled in September, and missed the postseason despite several big-money offseason  acquisitions like outfielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Following the collapse, Boston declined to exercise Francona’s 2012 option.

On Nov. 21, Valentine, who also managed the Texas Rangers and New York Mets, interviewed for the vacated position, and on Dec. 2, he was formally introduced.

The early mantra of Valentine’s first Red Sox camp has been “turn the page,” leave the ugliness of September and the offseason behind and move on to a new season. That may not be so easily done, though.

“I don’t think you turn the page on it, personally,” Valentine said. “I don’t know if I ever said that. If I did, give me the right to change my mind. You work through things, and time’s a great healer but it’s not the only healer. If someone was burned in there, it’s going to take some time for the sting to leave.

“And it’s probably going to take some actions. I don’t know that they have to be in a meeting forum or caucusing, small groups, big groups. As I say, usually they’ll present themselves and when they do, then you’ll find the true spirit.”

Valentine said he has talked with other players who have expressed similar sentiments to Beckett.

“Saying `forget it’ is like saying `relax,”’ he said. “Those words mean nothing. You have to learn it takes breathing and confidence and all those wonderful things to relax. And it takes time and possibly, at times, apologies. But apologies come with actions to heal. So, I don’t think we can just (say) `OK, we’re going to have a meeting. OK, forget it, and now we’re turning the page. That’s it. It’s over.’

“No, thank you. I don’t particularly believe that.”

Francona is now an analyst for ESPN, a position Valentine held prior to taking the Red Sox position. Asked if Francona’s comments might add a little spice to the first Sunday night Red Sox game he’s scheduled to work, Valentine responded:   “I doubt it. Remember you get paid over there for saying stuff. You get paid over here for doing stuff.”

     (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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