Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: August 15, 11:30 AM ET
Dustin Pedroia denies Bobby V report
ESPN.com news services
This story has been corrected. Read below
Dustin Pedroia said Tuesday that a group of Boston Red Sox players met with team ownership in late July, but denied a report that players called for a change to be made at manager.
"I don't think Bobby (Valentine) should be fired," Pedroia said Tuesday night after Boston's 7-1 loss to Baltimore. "We haven't played well. That's the bottom line. I'm not going to blame anything on Bobby. It's on the players. Last year wasn't on Tito (former manager Terry Francona). I know he took it hard. We were 99.7 percent in the playoffs last year, and we weren't in there. Anything can happen. Baseball's a crazy game."
According to a Yahoo! Sports report, a group of Red Sox players was highly critical of Valentine, some even stating at a July 26 meeting with team ownership that they no longer wanted to play for him.
Irked by Valentine's decision to leave Jon Lester in a July 22 game in which he surrendered 11 runs, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez reportedly texted his displeasure to ownership on behalf of himself and other players. That message led to owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino meeting with a frustrated group of players at a New York hotel before a series against the Yankees.
"I don't know, I've never met the guy that wrote the story," Pedroia said. "We're going to go out and play as hard as we can. We dug ourselves this hole, and we've got to try to dig ourselves out of it. We've got to be professional."
The meeting, three unnamed sources told Yahoo! Sports, turned ugly, with Gonzalez and Pedroia among the most vocal in their criticism of Valentine. ESPN.com reported that 17 players took part in the meeting.
"It's tough," Pedroia said. "We had a meeting. I'll be honest with everybody. We had a meeting in New York. The coaches had a meeting. Bobby had a meeting. We all had a meeting. Basically, when I spoke, I said we all need to do better. That includes owners, Bobby, coaches, especially the players.
"I had one problem with Bobby earlier in the year and I went into his office and talked to him like a man. He talked to me like a man. We've been great, had a great relationship. I'll go out there and play for him any day of the week. I'm playing for all my teammates."
Less than a week after the meeting, Henry gave Valentine a vote of confidence in an email to reporters.
"I'm not going to comment on any stories, and I don't know what issues you might be referring to," Valentine said Tuesday. "Dustin and I had a talk about a meeting that I had."
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that the meeting took place, but did not comment on the tone or content of the meeting.
"The intent of the meeting was to provide a forum for people to express whatever frustration needed to be expressed at a time during the season when things were not going exactly the way we wanted to on the field in hopes that we could put whatever issues were there aside and focus on playing games the rest of the season," Cherington told Yahoo! Sports. "That was the intent of the meeting. That was the focus of ownership. It was a productive meeting.
"Since then, we have not gone on the run we were supposed to."
Gonzalez also acknowledged that a meeting with management took place.
"They had a meeting with the players, they had a meeting with the coaches and they had a meeting with Bobby and it was to assess where we were as a team and as an organization and why we were where we were, and what our thoughts were, basically," Gonzalez told WEEI.
Valentine, Henry and other members of management met Aug. 4, with Henry issuing a vote of confidence in Valentine in the following days.
"It's unfortunate that all this stuff comes out," Pedroia said. "I know we lost last year. We had huge signings and all kinds of stuff. We're trying to play the game the right way and have an organization that does things right and plays winning baseball. It's tough when all this stuff comes out that everyone's trying to get the manager fired. That's not the case."
One player who spoke on the condition of anonymity and was present at the meeting told ESPNBoston.com "it was just like any other meeting."
The Red Sox have endured a season of disappointment, injuries and internal turmoil, entering play Wednesday a disappointing 57-60, 12½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 6½ back in the wild-card race. They are 8-10 since the meeting in New York.
Information from ESPNBoston.com special contributor Jeff Seidel was used in this report.
An Aug. 14 story incorrectly reported that Red Sox players met with manager Bobby Valentine and coaches. Players met with ownership.