Crawford usage latest 'drama' for Bobby V
NEW YORK -- A day in the life of Bobby Valentine is always highly entertaining. The Red Sox manager stepped away from the head table after his pregame media conference at Yankee Stadium on Saturday and sarcastically said to no one in particular: "Can I get the tape of that?"Valentine had just voluntarily admitted that he had overstepped Red Sox management by playing Carl Crawford too many days in a row despite a damaged left elbow that will soon need Tommy John surgery. "Oh boy, why did I do this?" Valentine said when asked to clarify his own comments. "They told me before that game that he wasn't playing and I kind of did the old veto power: 'Who says he's not playing?' And I played him." When he was thanked for his honesty, Valentine countered: "No, really, it's wonderful to relive those moments." Valentine had played Crawford six games in a row upon his return from missing the first half of the season. This after Valentine had been told by the Boston medical staff to play Crawford in only four games consecutively. That's why Crawford was out of the lineup on Saturday as the Red Sox won a see-saw game against the Yankees, 8-6, with two runs in the ninth. Asked if he wasn't particularly wild about the edict, Valentine hummed a little ditty. "I'm wild ... I'm not wild. Da da da. I'd like to have Carl every day," Valentine said. "I'd like to have all my good players every day, but I understand the situation better now than I did then." Earlier, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona held court in the Boston clubhouse seated on a stool in a locker while about a half dozen of his former players pulled up seats around him and the room chocked full with members of the media. Francona is now an ESPN analyst in town to do Sunday night's broadcast. Francona and the Red Sox parted ways last year after they were eliminated from the playoffs when the Rays won and they lost on the final day of the regular season. The team under Valentine this year has continued in a lateral spiral. Valentine was ensconced in his office with the door closed as this transpired. When he was advised later of Francona's presence, he wasn't particularly happy about it. "We've got drama," Valentine said afterward. "We've got pregame drama, we've got in-game drama, and we've got postgame drama. Man, we've got drama." Valentine has been in the eye of the storm all season, his first managing in the Major Leagues since a seven-year tenure with the Mets ended in 2002. What better place for a day of frivolity like this to occur than back on the New York stage? Valentine was well aware when he showed up for Spring Training this past February in Fort Myers, Fla., that the Red Sox were replete with problems. "Then they got worse," Valentine said in a pregame interview, "much worse." Still, he's trying to keep his optimism intact. He noted that after the games on this date a year ago, the Rays were 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East and came roaring back. Of course, the Red Sox helped by playing 7-19 ball in September. That's exactly where the Red Sox stand behind the Yankees right now -- 10 1/2 games back. "And who made the playoffs?" Valentine said. "I had a team across town [in 2000] that won 40 of its last 60 [actually 64] and went to the World Series. So it can happen. I'll take that." Whether it can happen this year, with this Red Sox team is wide open to question, even with an extra Wild Card berth in both leagues. The entire Crawford kerfuffle began innocently enough when Valentine was simply asked why the lefty swinger wasn't in the lineup despite his first homer of the season on Friday night and a .319 lifetime batting average against left-hander CC Sabathia, the Yanks starter on Saturday. "Why isn't he playing?" Valentine said rhetorically. "He's on a four-day program. I figured it was better for him to play four of the next days than play this game and three after this, considering they're all left-handers after today." "His numbers against CC, Yankee Stadium, short right-field fence -- tough decision," Valentine added. "That's why I get paid the big bucks." Later, when it was noted that Valentine had already played Crawford six days in a row from July 16-21, he came clean. "Yeah, he did," Valentine said. Were the new rules something that had just been sprung on him? "I did a manager no-no thing, you know," he admitted. "I went against what I was told to do. Never to be done again." Crawford wasn't happy, either, when told Saturday about the restrictions. But that's just par for the course around Red Sox Nation these days. Valentine said he had his own private discussion with Crawford about the matter. "He always wants to play," Valentine said in his postgame session. "I love that. I always want all my players to want to play. We're just trying to do what's best for Carl and the team. It's not a thing for the season. It's something we're going to progress up and out of to make sure we don't get him too deep into a situation." With that, the big day with Bobby V ended. One can only imagine what Sunday may bring.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.