BOSTON (CBS) – Bobby Valentine has already made calls to most of his Red Sox, and the new Boston manager is getting a feel for his new players.

Some are feeling better than others.

“I did reach out to Josh (Beckett) and he didn’t want me to say anything, so I’m not going to say anything other than after he told me how pissed off he was we had a really good conversation,” Valentine said Tuesday from the Winter Meetings in Dallas.

“I’m not going to say anything about it,” Valentine joked after spilling the beans.

It is good to know Beckett is still reeling from Boston’s 7-20 September. He has been touted as one of the ring leaders of the “Beer and Chicken Gang” in the Red Sox clubhouse. Beckett will have a lot to prove after his 1-2 September in which he allowed 15 runs over 24 innings.

“It seems like they let it get away, or some of the guys let it get away. And they all understand that,” Valentine said of the September collapse. “I’m not going to have them do extra sprints in spring training. I think that these are great athletes, world-class athletes, mature adults who get it and understand. After talking to some of them on the phone and leaving others messages, I’m sure if they didn’t agree with the message or didn’t agree with the conversation, they would say ‘everything is perfect and we’re just going to do it the same way again.’ I don’t think anyone’s thinks that’s the way it’s going to happen.”

Valentine On Talking With Players, Beckett 

Valentine said he has talked with almost every player, with a few by way of text message.

“I’ve reached out to a lot. I haven’t gotten Daisuke (Matsuzaka), who’s on the disabled list,” said Valentine. “(Jed) Lowrie; there’s about five guys including Carl Crawford that I haven’t been able to reach. I just went to the text because I decided I really wanted to have my voice be the first communication. But I haven’t been able to get through.”

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Valentine would like to speak with his star left fielder before the Red Sox report to Fort Myers in February.

“I texted him, and I want to meet him if he wants to meet me before spring training … I think that he deserves my reaching out to him, and I’m trying to do that.”

One question Valentine was asked by the large gathering of media was about the lineup, and if Crawford would be playing musical chairs again from the 1-9 spots.

“When I talked to Adrian (Gonzalez) he mentioned how hitting at one spot in the order wasn’t important to him. So for different guys have different strokes,” explained Valentine. “But I can tell you that in the 1,000’s of games I’ve managed, I never made out a lineup card thinking of one guy. It’s always about the group and how you fit them in together for the whole lineup.”

“Hells bells, I would like to have one lineup and use it for 162 games, but it’s more likely I’d use 162 lineups than one lineup,” he said. “So there will be lots of moving parts, and I’ll talk to Carl about that. If someone has a thing, and I remember Mike Piazza saying I can only hit if I bat third, and he hit fourth and had some of the greatest years of his life. Sometimes they get over it.”

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“I can see Ellsbury hitting third, Pedroia hitting third or second; he hit pretty well when he hit fourth,” continued Valentine. “Probably the last thing in my mind is the lineup. There is so much more to cultivate before we get to Detroit. That’s way down the line.”

Another topic Valentine covered, and there were many, was the future of Daniel Bard. Will the set-up man be shifted into the closers role, or even the starting rotation?

“Daniel Bard is an extremely talented pitcher from the things I’ve seen on video; electric stuff,” said Valentine. “Talking to him on the phone, he seems like the guy everyone wants: ‘I’ll do what’s right for the team. If you need me to close I’ll close, if you need me to start I’ll start.’ That’s the greatest thing in the world or it could be the worst thing in the world. Because I don’t think it’s fair to him to put him in that position. That being said, we’re going to put him in that position. And see how things are going to come to pass, as the winter meetings close, as the winter goes on as we add to our roster.”

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“I know he’s real talented pitcher,” the new Sox skipper said of Bard.

The Sox are in the same boat with Alfredo Aceves and Andrew Miller, who will either fight for the final two spots in the rotation or stay in the bullpen.

Valentine said competitions will present, and likely solve themselves in Spring Training.


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