NEW YORK — Terry Francona raised eyebrows at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon when he grabbed a chair in the Red Sox clubhouse and held a long conversation with six players and bench coach Tim Bogar.
On Sunday, Francona apologized to Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine via text message.
Valentine said the apology wasn’t necessary, but he appreciated it.
“I didn’t think it was any big deal,” Valentine said before the Red Sox took the series with a 3-2 in in 10 innings. “I didn’t see it. I wasn’t there partaking in the conversation. But what’s the big deal?”
Francona is now with ESPN after spending eight years as the manager of the Red Sox. As part of his job, he visits clubhouses to gather information.
But Saturday’s extended visit was uncharacteristic given that Francona said earlier this season that he planned to limit his time in the Red Sox clubhouse given how awkward the situation would be for Valentine. As they normally would, Francona and ESPN’s other broadcasters, Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman, met with Valentine before Sunday night’s game against the Yankees.
Valentine made light of the situation when asked how that meeting went.
“Oh, I yelled at him as soon as he came into my office and just said, ‘Don’t ever do that again,’ ” Valentine said. “No. I said, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and we didn’t bring it up.”
The Red Sox — and a dozen or so other teams — had a scout in Miami to see righthander Josh Johnson.
He did not impress, lasting only five innings and allowing two runs on two hits and six walks. The oft-injured Johnson has a 4.04 earned run average in 21 starts and a 1.35 WHIP.
The Marlins are seeking a package of high-profile prospects for Johnson, who is under contract through the 2013 season.
As of Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox were not perceived as being heavily involved.
Valentine was asked what needs he thought the Red Sox had.
“I think we need a better press corps. Probably help the mental state of our group. Other than that, I don’t see any gaping holes,” he said.
On a serious note, Valentine is expecting the Sox to be buyers leading up to the Tuesday non-waivers trade deadline.
“This organization is in it to win it all the time. I don’t think the ownership and the front office is thinking anything other than we’ve got a shot,” he said.
Team president Larry Lucchino has said the Sox could be “bold” at the deadline. But major league sources said the Red Sox do not appear to be pursuing any major trades.
Aviles takes a seat
Mike Aviles was out of the lineup, his sprained right toe having hampered him in recent games. The shortstop was 3 for 24 (.125) since jamming his foot while running the bases July 20 against Toronto.
“I’m trying to get Mike’s toe where it should be,” Valentine said. “We thought we had it in a situation that was comfortable but it’s less than comfortable. I’m hoping only a day but we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Through Saturday, Aviles had played 844⅔ innings in the field. That is by far the most of his career.
“I think I’m holding up fine,” he said. “I try to prepare myself in the winter for playing every day and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that. Once I get past this toe thing, I should be fine.”
Aviles said he would be getting his toe examined by a doctor Monday.
“Oh, yeah, absolutely,” Valentine said if the injury has affected Aviles. “Affects his batting; he’s been coming off of it so early. But he’s been gutting through it and wanted to play.”
Aviles entered Sunday’s game hitting .252 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs.
His fielding, while not Gold Glove-caliber, has been better than was expected coming out of spring training.
“Bobby has shown a lot of confidence in me by playing me every day and that helps,” Aviles said. “It’s been a while since a manager has done that.
“I’m not saying I’m a great player or anything like that. But I play hard when I’m out there and I appreciate putting on a uniform and playing with these guys.
“I feel like I’ve contributed and done my part. Coming to Boston has been a great thing for my career. I really feel comfortable here.”
Pedro Ciriaco started at shortstop Sunday night.
David Ortiz did not take batting practice on the field before the game but is continuing to make progress with his strained right Achilles’ tendon. The designated hitter is eligible to be activated off the disabled list Wednesday. “He’s feeling really good. He’s feeling good enough that in a couple of three days if it gets better he should feel good enough [to play] but you never know,” Valentine said . . . Righthanded reliever Scott Atchison will have tests on his strained forearm Monday. He had discomfort after throwing an inning in a rehabilitation game for Triple A Pawtucket on Friday. “We have some concern,” Valentine said. “He threw 20 pitches and didn’t feel as good as we were hoping that he would . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch an inning or two in a rehab start for Pawtucket Monday night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The game is being played in Rochester, N.Y. Scranton is using assorted fields for home games this season as their stadium is renovated. Matsuzaka is on the disabled list.
Buchholz up first
The Red Sox start a 10-game homestand, their longest of the season, Monday night against the Tigers. Clay Buchholz will face Max Scherzer. Buchholz is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last eight starts . . . The Sox had the field for an optional early batting practice session. Valentine jumped in the cage for a few hacks off hitting coach Dave Magadan. A career .260 hitter in parts of 10 major seasons, Valentine knocked a few balls into the outfield. “I was too out in front,” Valentine said . . . The New York tabloids ran large back-page photos of a shirtless Tim Tebow jogging at Jets training camp. Dustin Pedroia pasted a photo of his head on Tebow’s muscle-bound body and hung it in his locker.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.