Takeaways from Fort: Jabs from Bobby V.

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
7:24
PM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bobby Valentine didn’t need an admonition from a judge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth after Monday’s 8-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The Red Sox manager spared no one, including himself, in a postgame analysis in which he skewered relief pitcher Mark Melancon with sarcasm, offered no protection to rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias for missing a sign, lamented that starting pitcher Felix Doubront lacked a “killer pitch” and blamed his own “confusion” for an unsettled bullpen situation.

And Valentine did so without so much as a hint of anger or irritation. Just the facts, ma’am, or at least the Truth According to Bobby V.

Of Melancon, who recorded the last out of the fifth inning but then got knocked around for three runs in the sixth, Valentine said: “I thought he backed up bases pretty well. He had that down.’’

With Iglesias, who had missed a week with a sore groin, Valentine could have started with the nice defensive play the kid made, reacting with lightning quickness to a bad hop that threatened to rearrange his face. Instead he volunteered -- without prompting -- that Iglesias had missed a sign on a play that resulted in Darnell McDonald being caught stealing by yards.

[+] EnlargeFelix Doubront
AP Photo/Charles KrupaBobby Valentine said Felix Doubront lacked a "killer pitch" in allowing eight hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Twins.
“He missed a sign,’’ Valentine said. “It was a tough sign to get, [but] I told him I’d take him out of the game if he ever missed a sign again.’’

As for Doubront, the Venezuelan left-hander making a bid to claim the fifth spot in the starting rotation, his chances enhanced by the fact he’s out of options, Valentine said: “I didn’t see that nastiness on 1-and-2, that killer pitch that differentiates a lot of guys. I’d like to see if he has it. I liked a lot; I wished for more.’’

Doubront went 4 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and two runs. He walked a man and struck out three.

Finally, Valentine allowed that the reason he isn’t all that enchanted with his bullpen at the moment is because he has yet to sort out his bullpen.

“I’m not really happy with any of the relief,’’ he said. “I’ve said attitude filters down from the top. I’m a bit confused with the whole bullpen situation only because we haven’t been able to fit any pieces together. I think that confusion is filtering [down] and now everyone is something other than settled. That’s where we have to go from here.’’

The time has come, he said, to do just that.

“We’re going to collectively map this thing out now,’’ he said. “It’s about time to really figure out, probably make some cuts, get down to a manageable number … [and select] a pretty definitive spot they’re going to pitch in.’’

That won’t happen overnight, Valentine said, because the next two days are still about getting work in rather than defined roles. But it will be soon.

Valentine did sprinkle some praise among his remarks, which should come as relief to Doubront, who did a nice job of escaping some jams and expressed satisfaction at how strong he still felt after an outing of 74 pitches, 49 of which were strikes.

“I see him as a guy who is going to pitch for our team sometime this season,’’ Valentine said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be at the beginning or not. He’s the kind of guy we’re lucky to have, I think we’re fortunate to have.

“I think there’s still a step. I’m going to see what Bobby [McClure], maybe Luis [Tiant] think about that. He had a good changeup, curve, fastball. He locates and gets ahead. We need that other thing that’s going to force them to put it in play weakly or strike them out. I didn’t see it today.’’

Iglesias said he experienced no issues running after sitting out with a strained groin. He also expressed some satisfaction with the work he has been doing with hitting coach Dave Magadan. “He’s happy with my approach,’’ Iglesias said. “I’m happy too.’’

Closer Andrew Bailey hit the first batter he faced, then set down the next three, striking out J.R. Towles to finish his outing. Bailey, who has pitched an inning on three occasions after missing time with a lat strain, said there is plenty of time for him to be ready by the opener.

“I don’t need to rush it here,’’ he said. “Obviously I wanted to get off on the right foot. Doing that little lat tweak wasn’t a great foot to get off on, but I’m confident I’ll be ready. We have two weeks left, the D.C trip. There’s plenty of time to get five or six more innings.’’

Alfredo Aceves gave up eight hits and three runs in a Triple-A game against Durham, Tampa Bay’s affiliate. “He threw a lot of pitches and gave up a lot of hits and three runs,’’ Valentine said. ”He seemed to be making some pitches [but] they were hitting him.’’

Daisuke Matsuzaka had another very good session of throwing batting practice, Valentine said, citing GM Ben Cherington as his source. Cherington told him it was the best BP he has seen Matsuzaka throw in quite some time. ... Carl Crawford took 25 swings off a tee Monday morning. ... Aaron Cook will draw the start Thursday night against the Yankees as he bids for a spot on the staff.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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