Red Sox owner John Henry answered the calls for Bobby Valentine’s dismissal with an email sent to WEEI’s Rob Bradford and others Monday:
I’ve gotten questions about Bobby and about ownership from you so I’ll say the following on the record.
To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong. A lot has been written about injuries to key players this year. The impact of that on the Sox this year should not be discounted.
Later on the in the email, Henry added that, “We are not making a change in manager.”
Which is probably for the best; if the Red Sox let Valentine go now, it’d suggest the inmates are running the asylum. Valentine has been a pretty good in-game manager for Boston since some early bumps in the road when he was trying to figure out how to utilize his closer-less bullpen, and given the number of injuries they’ve had, it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox have underachieved.
Whether Valentine should be invited back next year is the better question. The Boston clubhouse doesn’t seem like a very happy environment at the moment, and while that can’t be all Valentine’s fault, he’s not exactly one to unify the players (unless it’s in rallying them against himself). His early public comments on Kevin Youkilis certainly didn’t help the former All-Star turn it around, and the Red Sox eventually had little choice but to make a choice between Valentine and Youkilis, resulting in the terrible trade that sent Youkilis to Chicago.
Personally, I think the Red Sox should remove Valentine in the offseason and bring in more of a players’ manager in his place. Making the switch now would send the wrong message, though.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.