Though his team has been hovering around the mark all season, Bobby Valentine doesn't see the Red Sox as a .500 baseball team.
In fact, he thinks the Red Sox, who enter play Wednesday a game under .500 (55-56), are bound for October even though they're currently nine games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 4½ games out of the second wild-card spot, behind four teams (a fifth if you count the wild-card leader).
"I think we're a playoff team and I think we're going to be there before the season is over," Valentine said Wednesday morning in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI.
When it was suggested by a host that the Red Sox would probably need to get to around 89 wins to clinch the second wild-card spot -- which would mean a 34-17 record the rest of the way -- Valentine thought such a run sounded doable.
"Yeah, of course," Valentine said. "Of course, we can do better than that. I don't think that's so optimistic, I think it's realistic if we stay healthy. Right now we have some concerns in the bullpen. If that stabilizes I think there's big runs ahead."
Valentine's playoff prediction comes two days after he was given an unqualified vote of support from team ownership as rumors swirled that the manager's job could be in jeopardy. Valentine is signed to a two-year contract.
Principal owner John W. Henry, in an email sent to reporters shortly after general manager Ben Cherington, expressed his backing for Valentine. He also declared the team's commitment to Valentine, who has been involved in varying degrees of controversy since being hired to replace Terry Francona last winter.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and Joe McDonald was used in this report.