Saturday, February 25, 2012
Updated: February 26, 8:55 PM ET
Red Sox ban alcohol in clubhouse
By Gordon Edes
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox have banned beer in the clubhouse, manager Bobby Valentine announced Saturday afternoon.
Beer consumption also will be cut off on the last leg of road trips, he said.
Valentine said he informed the team of the change Saturday morning during a meeting of the full squad, with the Red Sox owners and the baseball operations staff in attendance.
"It's just what I've always done, except in Texas, I guess," Valentine said in explaining the decision. "I'm comfortable with it that way."
The ban applies to all alcoholic beverages, the Red Sox confirmed.
Clubhouse beer consumption by starting pitchers during games in which they weren't appearing became a lightning rod of controversy after last season.
Red Sox starters Josh Beckett and Jon Lester met separately with reporters last weekend, expressing varying degrees of responsibility for the team's collapse last September, but agreeing that the fans' anger was understandable.
Valentine, when asked how the change was received Saturday, said: "You mean standing ovation or booing? I didn't get either of those. Probably fell somewhere in between a standing O and a standing boo."
Valentine said he did not speak with any of the team's veterans before announcing the policy.
Did he anticipate any pushback?
"I don't know. What would happen if they got traded to St. Louis? What, would they refuse the trade? Or New York? Or any of the other 19 teams or however many teams that (ban beer)? I doubt it, but I don't know what kind of pushback you could get."
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz endorsed Valentine's decision.
"We're not here to drink," he told reporters. "We're here to play baseball. It ain't a bar."
The St. Louis Cardinals banned alcohol in their clubhouse in 2007, five days after pitcher Josh Hancock, who played briefly for the Red Sox, died in an alcohol-related automobile accident.
Both the New York Mets and Yankees have banned alcohol from their clubhouses.
One team that hasn't banned the alcoholic beverages is the Tampa Bay Rays.
Manager Joe Maddon said he would continue to allow adult beverages in his clubhouse, telling the Tampa Bay Times, "We're not the Boston Red Sox."
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre said during the World Series last fall -- when he was still working in the commissioner's office -- that MLB might consider an alcohol ban in all clubhouses.
Asked in general about what other rules he discussed Saturday, Valentine said: "Not to embarrass themselves or the team, the community, their teammates, themselves. I don't think that's a new rule. It's a long-standing rule of life."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.