- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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When the Red Sox's 2011 season came to a devastating end with a 7-20 record in the final month of the season last September, reports surfaced that there were chemistry problems within the clubhouse and questions have been raised again as the team has struggled to stay above .500 and out of last place in the AL East.
On Tuesday afternoon in the Boston clubhouse, Ortiz touched on a variety of topics, including the Red Sox player philosophy.
"First of all, this is the Red Sox right here. This ain't no (expletive) organization that players just walk in for the first day and start doing whatever the (expletive) they want," he said. "Players, when they walk into this clubhouse, they look around and they want to adjust themselves to what is going on here, and that's how things are in this clubhouse."
Ortiz explained that every player is in the clubhouse on a daily basis by 2:30 p.m. No one arrives late and there are plenty of players who are here early, he said.
"Players come here and do what they're supposed to do and try to win ballgames -- win or lose," Ortiz said. "When (expletive) gets tight around here, that's when you see the guys go even more."
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney wrote in his blog on Monday that an "unhappiness that exists among the Boston players and staff is multi-layered and deep."
Ortiz, who admitted he's close with Olney, said Olney's assessment of Boston's clubhouse is not accurate.
"If he wants to make a comment like that, why don't you ask me a question first," Ortiz said. "I run this (expletive) clubhouse right here. This clubhouse has no problem. The last problem this clubhouse had was last year when everything came down to what it was in (September), but since then everybody's cool and everybody's trying their best to win games."
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who worked as an analyst for ESPN, was asked for his comments about the environment in his clubhouse, which Olney called toxic in a Sunday blog entry.
"I don't know how to define 'toxic' because it's too big a word for me," Valentine said. "But I'm not going to comment on people's articles. I don't even comment on your articles. Why would I comment on someone that I don't think knows anything, and you guys are here every day. If I'm going to comment on articles, I'm going to comment on the stuff that you guys write."
Ortiz said the players haven't talked about the report and also try not to let allow outside distractions affect them.
Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross, who returns to the lineup Tuesday night after a trip to the DL because of a fracture in his left foot, is in the midst of his first season in Boston and said he believes the clubhouse atmosphere is top-rate.
"One of the better ones I have ever been in," Ross said. "All the guys get along really well. We enjoy playing with each other and enjoy hanging out with each other. There is a really good vibe in here."
Ross agreed that unless someone is in the clubhouse or around the team on a daily basis, they shouldn't make assessments of players.
"We don't pay attention to it," Ross said. "You hear people saying these kinds of things that aren't even in our clubhouse. When you're not in our clubhouse near as much as even you guys, you guys are in here more than people that are saying that. Only us players understand how it feels in here. You could probably go around 1 through 25 and they will all say the exact same thing. This is a great team and we have a lot of fun. It was actually comical."
There used to be the notion of 25 cabs for 25 players with the Red Sox back in the '70s and '80s, but Ortiz says that's not the case -- at least since he's been here.
"We all get along here real well, I can tell you that," Ortiz said. "There's not one guy right here that has a problem with any others. We've got a bus that we all have to get on and you should see that bus when we are riding on it. If (Olney) means toxic clubhouse because of the players, I don't know about that. I'm the guy who is in control of that (expletive), so he's wrong when it comes down to that.
"In this clubhouse right now, there's not one guy who's not going at it -- not one," he said. "It used to be, but not anymore."
When asked when there were problems in the clubhouse, Ortiz said "a while ago."
"It's not that there were guys going at it; there was just a lot of confusion going on back and forth about different things, different subjects. That's not happening here anymore. Everybody's on the same page right now and we're waiting for those guys who are injured to come back so our team gets into beast mode.
"With the players in this clubhouse right now, there are no issues. There's not a bad apple in this clubhouse right now -- there's not one. I could be looking at the wrong picture, but I know my teammates and I'm telling you from David Ortiz's standpoint, maybe somebody else has a different standpoint, but I'm telling you these guys go out and go about their business.
"Everybody is on the same page -- bullpen, outfielders, infielders, me on the bench, the starting pitchers -- we're all cool with each other. I don't know what Buster was pointing at, but it's something I would like to know because he could be confused about something."
The Red Sox entered Tuesday's game against the Miami Marlins with a 33-33 record and remain in last place in the AL East. Every player who was asked about the "toxic" environment dismissed the comment as a fabrication.
"We pull for each other and we look out for each other," Ortiz said. "We help each other out -- a lot.
"If I'm not having fun, I don't see a good result."
Is everybody having fun?
"Well, when you get your (expletive) kicked, fun is not a part of it," he said. "But when you're winning and you play a good game, there is hope."
Boston Red Sox veteran leader David Ortiz said he doesn't believe there's a toxic environment in the team's clubhouse.