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TIMORE -- Eight days after it appeared the Red Sox had defused the controversy surrounding manager Bobby Valentine with a vote of confidence from ownership and front office, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that several players strongly criticized the manager during a meeting in late July.
Red Sox players confirmed Tuesday that the team had a meeting with owner John Henry and club president/CEO Larry Lucchino in New York during an off-day on July 26, but they didn't get into specifics.
Following Tuesday's 7-1 loss to the Orioles, second baseman Dustin Pedroia strongly denied that he placed blame on Valentine during the meeting.
"We had a meeting. I'll be honest with everybody," Pedroia said. "We had a meeting in New York. Coaches had a meeting, Bobby had a meeting, we all had a meeting. Basically, when I spoke, I said we all need to be better. That includes owners, Bobby, coaches and especially the players."
"To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season is simply wrong," Henry wrote in an e-mail to reporters last week. "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.
"In baseball, managers often get too much credit and too much blame for what happens on the field. That seems to be a constant. There is often the thought in organizations, 'This isn't working so the manager needs to go.' But an organization is much more than the field manager. We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox. We are not making a change in manager."
The Yahoo! report stated that Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had sent a text message to someone from ownership voicing dissatisfaction that Valentine had allowed Jon Lester to pitch long enough to allow 11 earned runs in a July 22 start. The report added that Gonzalez and Pedroia were the most vocal in a meeting in which some players stated they didn't want to play for Valentine.
"[The owners] 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," said Gonzalez.
Pedroia did admit to having a problem with Valentine earlier in the season, but he said that had little to do with what was discussed on July 26.
"I've had one problem with Bobby earlier in the year and I went into his office and I talked to him like a man, and he talked to me like a man," said Pedroia. "And we've been great. We've had a great relationship. That's all I can really say about it. I'll go out and play for him any day of the week. I'm playing for all my teammates. It's unfortunate that all this stuff comes out."
Following another tough loss, Pedroia emphasized that the key to a turnaround rests in the clubhouse -- not the managers' office.
"I don't think Bobby should be fired," Pedroia said. "Listen, we haven't played well. I mean, that's the bottom line. I'm not going to blame anything on Bobby, and I don't think anyone else is. It's on the players. Last year wasn't on [Terry Francona]. I know he took it hard. We all did. I mean, geez, it's on the players."
The Red Sox are 57-60 on the season, 6 1/2 games behind in the Wild Card standings.
Valentine was made aware of the Yahoo! story prior to Tuesday's game.
"Wow. Is that what was said, really? That's what Dustin and Adrian said? [The report] did say that? I didn't hear that," Valentine said. "I'm glad that July is over, because they're still playing for me."
Valentine was asked if there were issues that needed to be smoothed over a few weeks back.
"I'm not going to comment on any stories, because I don't know what issues you might be referring to," Valentine said. "Adrian's issues? Dustin and I had a talk about a meeting I had. I don't know if that was July."
What was the purpose 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," general manager Ben Cherington told Yahoo!. "That was the intent of the meeting. That was the focus of ownership. It was a productive meeting."
Since the meeting, the Red Sox have continued to sputter, going 8-10.
"We still haven't played well since then," acknowledged Gonzalez, who has been Boston's best hitter since the All-Star break.
The Red Sox are growing tired of the daily drama that surrounds them.
"It's tough when all this stuff comes out, that everyone's trying to get the manager fired. That's not the case, man," said Pedroia. "I've never met the guy that wrote the story. That's about it."
"Enough is enough," said outfielder Cody Ross. "We're professionals and we're here to play and do our jobs and win ballgames. All the outside and extracurricular stuff comes along with it, but we can't lose sight of our goal. It just gets tiring."