BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox won 93 games during the regular season last year, claiming their second straight AL East title.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops inside the clubhouse, which has the 2018 Red Sox hoping for a little more fun in their upcoming campaign.
Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts spoke with reporters down in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday, and both discussed the “tension” that was in the locker room last season. Neither went into what that tension was, but given the 2017 Red Sox resembled a daytime soap opera, you can take your pick.
Perhaps it was Dustin Pedroia siding with Manny Machado after Matt Barnes went head-hunting on the Baltimore slugger. Maybe it was David Price shouting at Dennis Eckersley over some critical comments the Hall of Famer made during a game broadcast. Or it could have had something to do with manager John Farrell’s season-long hot seat. There was no shortage of tension-causing incidents surrounding the 2017 Red Sox, and even when they were winning games, those victories didn’t seem to outshine the drama.
Both Betts and Bogaerts would like to see that change.
“We could have had more fun. I think we still enjoyed it, but we could have had more fun through the rough times,” Betts said Thursday. “Those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much.”
“We all know what was going on,” said Bogaerts. “I don’t think I really want to get into details. The quicker we move on is the better for all of us. We should look forward to this year, this is a new year. New expectations. Try to reach the playoffs again and get out of that first round.
“We can’t just sit back and keep reminding ourselves about the past,” added Bogaerts, describing some of the disagreements as “headbutts.”
It’s wild to think a team that spent over 100 days in first place wasn’t having any fun, but that’s the 2017 Red Sox in a nutshell for you. The season ultimately ended in disappointment, as Boston fell to the Houston Astros in the ALDS in four games. Farrell was fired shortly after the season ended and replaced by first-time manager Alex Cora. Maybe a fresh voice is what the Red Sox need to have “fun” again and, more importantly, put it all together and actually play winning baseball in October.
Betts admitted that the absence of David Ortiz and his booming locker room presence was a lot to overcome. He hopes they’re better equipped to do so this year, with their younger players another year older and ready to take the reigns as clubhouse leaders.
He also said that moving on from last season’s tension could be as simple as showing off the pearly whites more frequently, even in the face of adversity.
“We have to find a way to smile and go out and refocus on the game now versus kind of what has been going on,” said Betts. “This year will be a little different; I’m going to approach it a little differently, as far as I’m not playing well or if we’re losing. I’m going to do my best and find a way to get everyone back happy, smiling and excited and ready to play.
“If we hit a rough patch this year, maybe we learned from last year and can enjoy the game and get out of it a little faster,” added Betts.