Following latest controversy, Valentine stays upbeat
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TIMORE -- Instead of being worn down by the latest controversy surrounding his team, Bobby Valentine came to work on Wednesday with the optimism a lot of fans might not have at the moment.
His proverbial glass of water still half full, Valentine sees the 57-60 Red Sox making a run right back into postseason contention.
"We're gonna get hot," Valentine vowed, even as his team entered action trailing by six games in the American League Wild Card standings, with 45 games to play.
Valentine has been expressing similar thoughts for weeks. How does he keep believing, even as the days tick away and his team continues to play inconsistently?
"Well, you know when [Orioles manager] Buck Showlater says that we're only a week away from being where we need to be -- he's a seasoned veteran," said Valentine. "He has all his players rooting for him and doing better than we are this year. I respect other people's opinion."
Valentine also got more support from owner John Henry, who said on Wednesday that there was no discussion from players about wanting a new manager during a July 26 meeting in New York, contrary to what was reported by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.
"I'm not following the whole thing real actively, but as I said before, I regret the fact that he has to be out there [saying that]," Valentine said. "If we're 10 games over .500 or in first place right now, I don't think he'd have to make any statements. I appreciate John coming out and saying that."
Valentine was asked if he's still confident he will be managing the Red Sox in 2013, which is the final season of the two-year deal he signed back in December.
"In '14 [and] in '15 is what I'm confident about. I have years of extensions out there," Valentine said, perhaps tongue in cheek.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox continue to stand behind Valentine publicly.
"He does his job," said right-hander Clay Buchholz. "It's just like anything else. When something goes wrong, somebody has to get blamed for it. It's usually us. It is what it is. There's been a lot of stuff going around, a lot of it false. It's hard for a player to sit here and say it's not true, because it looks like you're just backing up guys. But no, he's done a good job."
"I've said this to John Henry, I've said this to Ben Cherington and I've said this to Bobby. I think he's a good manager. Nobody faults him for losing, and that's unfair," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said in an interview with radio station WEEI.
Dustin Pedroia made it clear following Tuesday's loss that the players are to blame for what ails the Red Sox -- not the manager.
"I feel bad that he has to have that kind of comment," Valentine said. "Dustin is the warrior of warriors. One of the greatest players I've ever been around. For him to have to say he's to blame for something? He's not to blame for anything. I think we're in it together, personally."
One of the assertions from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports! was that players thought Valentine was sequestering himself in his office too much and not interacting enough with the team.
"I didn't read that part of the story. It is what it is, you know? I was supposed to change my style," Valentine said. "I used to sit in the clubhouse and go to dinner with the players. Things have changed. I give them their space. They know when they need me, I'm right here. I'm with them every day -- every minute, every second of their lives."
Though Valentine is clearly no stranger to controversy, he was asked if all the outside distractions around the team have weighed on him.
"I don't know if it's weighing on me," said Valentine, "but the guys are just, you know, they're upset that every time we win a game, something else pops up out of the bag of tricks because this guy has been sitting on a story for what, three weeks, and decided to wait right before the Yankees series or whatever and pop it out there -- it's great stuff. It's really good stuff."
After wrapping up a three-game series with the Orioles on Thursday night, the Red Sox will open a three-game set at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.