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Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Red Sox answer chemistry quiz

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox would rather talk about wins and losses than clubhouse chemistry.

Before and after Tuesday's 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins at Fenway Park, Red Sox players were asked to discuss a report about festering dissension behind closed doors of a team that continues to titter around .500 and remains in the basement of the AL East.

Tuesday's victory put the Red Sox above .500 for the first time since June 8, and no matter if you asked a player, coach or manager, all said that everything is fine and the team is one big, happy family trying to overcome adversity on the field, but not off it.

"I think guys are very focused on doing what they have to do to be as good as they can be and I've seen that from Day 1," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Obviously, when you don't have the record everyone wants after 67 games, it's crap like that you have to address. They know what they have to do and they're doing a heck of a job."

Boston has struggled at home this season and entered Tuesday's game, the first of a nine-game homestand, with a 14-19 record at Fenway Park. So answering questions about clubhouse unity by starting a string of home games with a team-effort win could be exactly what gets this team going.

At least the players think so.

"It's great to get that first one out of the way," said Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross, who was activated from the disabled list before Tuesday's game. "I can't really explain the way we've played at home this year. It's really weird. We all love playing here. Obviously this is a great place to play and to pick up the first one of a long homestand is real encouraging and hopefully we can go out and start a long winning streak."

What wasn't encouraging for the Red Sox was the sight of second baseman Dustin Pedroia walking off the field after his at-bat in the seventh inning. He was removed from the game after apparently reinjuring his right thumb, the same injury that caused him to miss six games earlier this month. Valentine said Pedroia would be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

Of all the adversity this club has faced this season, injuries have been a major factor. The Red Sox have been without the services of Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Bailey for virtually the whole season, but all are on track to begin minor league rehab assignments soon.
Mike Aviles
Mike Aviles, celebrating Tuesday's win over the Marlins, says it's only a matter of time before the Red Sox get on a roll.

The last time Pedroia jammed his thumb there was some thought of placing him on the DL but after a few days of rest, it was decided he could play. Since returning on June 5, Pedroia is batting .170 (9-for-53) but despite those lowly stats, losing him for any amount of time would be a severe blow.

"We were dropping like flies but it seems like we're starting to get on that healthy track and hopefully Pedey's OK -- I think he is," Ross said. "He's a tough guy and he'll be out there as fast as he can, that's for sure."

All of Pedroia's teammates concur with Ross.

"He's a different breed," shortstop Mike Aviles said. "You see him come out, it's really not that big of a deal because he's the kind of guy who will be over here and you've got to fight him" to keep him out of the lineup.

There could be other changes in the lineup that won't be due to injury.

There's a strong possibility that Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis will not be playing in Boston after baseball's trade deadline on July 31.

Even though the deadline is still more than a month away, the rumor mill has been churning in regards to Youkilis, especially given the emergence of rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Youkilis said he doesn't want to address trade speculation.

"I just want to play baseball," he said. "I'm not going to talk. There's nothing at this point, so I'll just play and do my thing."

On the positive side of things, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz improved to 8-2 after he worked six innings and allowed five runs on nine hits with three strikeouts.

Buchholz has won his past four starts and is 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA in his last eight starts. The right-hander wasn't particularly sharp in his 14th start of the season on Tuesday, but it had been a week since his most recent start on June 12 at Miami.

"It was a long layoff and his timing was just off," Valentine said. "His changeup wasn't what it has been and his location with his fastball wasn't what it has been, but it was another notch in the win column and that'll get him to come back strong."

The problem with the Red Sox is they haven't been able to play consistently in every aspect of the game. That's something the players will agree with. However, don't try to tell them there's a problem in the clubhouse.

"It's just a matter of all of us being in sync at the same time," Aviles said. "It's only a matter of time before everything plays out together and we go on a roll."