Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Red Sox fire Valentine; Blue Jays manager could be a target

BOSTON — The Red Sox thought Bobby Valentine would restore order to a coddled clubhouse that disintegrated during the 2011 pennant race. Instead, he caused more problems.

The brash, confident manager was fired Thursday, the day after the finale of a season beset with internal sniping and too many losses. Valentine went 69-93 in his only year in Boston, the club's worst season in almost 50 years.

"I understand this decision," Valentine said in a statement released by the team. "This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation. … I'm sure next year will be a turnaround year."

A baseball savant who won the NL pennant with the Mets and won it all in Japan, Valentine was brought in after two-time World Series champion Terry Francona lost control of the clubhouse during an unprecedented September collapse. But the players bristled at Valentine's abrasive style. More important, they didn't win for him, either.

"We felt it was the right decision for that team at that time," GM Ben Cherington said of Valentine's hiring. "It hasn't worked out because the season has been a great disappointment. That's not on Bobby Valentine; that's on all of us. We felt that in order to move forward and have a fresh start, we need to start anew in the manager's office."

Without Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, the Red Sox will save $250 million in future salaries and have a chance to rebuild over the winter. But that will be too late for Valentine.

"We have gratitude for him, respect for him and affection for him, and we're not going to get into what his inabilities were, what his issues were," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. "I just don't think it's fair."

Valentine, who worked for ESPN from 2009-11, probably won't be back at the network. The network is happy with its current crew of baseball analysts, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.

Cherington will lead the search for a new manager. The team's top target is Toronto manager and former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, who has a year left on his deal with the Blue Jays.

Cherington said he has thought about potential successors but declined to comment on specific individuals.

Tragedy for A's pitcher: Gehrig John Neshek, the son of Oakland reliever Pat Neshek and wife Stephanee, died Wednesday less than 24 hours after being born. The Nesheks said on Twitter they had not been given a cause of death. Pat Neshek left the team Tuesday to be with his wife during the birth and missed the A's AL West-clinching game.

MLB attendance: Average attendance rose 1.8 percent this year to its highest level since 2008. The 30 teams averaged 30,895 per game, the commissioner's office said, up from 30,362 last season.

Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy plans to start Matt Cain in Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Reds on Saturday and left-hander Madison Bumgarner in Game 2. Bochy said he was unsure whether he would use two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and 15-game winner Barry Zito as starters or out of the bullpen.

Phillies: Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame second baseman who spent the past two seasons managing Triple-A Lehigh Valley, was promoted to Philadelphia's staff as third-base coach and infield instructor.

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