NEW YORK — Batting practice was long over and his teammates were in the clubhouse preparing to face the Yankees on Friday when David Ortiz took a seat in the dugout to speak to a handful of reporters about the issues swirling around the Red Sox.
Ortiz defended manager Bobby Valentine, saying he should not be fired. That some of his teammates may not support Valentine is incidental, according to Ortiz.
“Who cares if a player’s against a manager? We’ve got to deal with the manager anyway,” he said. “A manager is not something you can go and change like you change your underwear. It can happen at some point, but the possibility of it happening, especially in the middle of the season, is a small percent, so that’s not our case.”
Ortiz does not believe Valentine is to blame for the team falling so far out of contention.
“I think Bobby’s doing great, man. He had to deal with so many things through the season, a lot of guys’ injuries. I guarantee if we don’t have that many guys go onto the DL this year, history would be different this year, and all the talks and negativity that have come out against him, I don’t think it would be there.
“Because what does it mean if you’re playing well? He can’t manage the team and at the same time go and play for us. All he can do is make moves and make decisions. But if you don’t have your squad out there providing what you expect — because of injuries or bad games or whatever — I don’t think people should be looking at it like it’s his fault we struggled the way we have this year.”
Ortiz declined to take part in the July 26 meeting in New York called by some of his teammates to complain about Valentine. Since spring training, Ortiz has been a vocal supporter of Valentine.
But Ortiz is angry that details of the meeting were leaked and became a story earlier this week.
“It affects the players,” Ortiz said. “The other day, [Dustin] Pedroia was playing baseball out there [ticked] off and not focused on what he wants to do because that report came out saying he was against the manager.
“How do you think he’s going to feel out there? . . . That kid, he wants to do nothing but play baseball no matter who his manager is, no matter who’s the umpire, who’s the fan — he don’t care. He wants to go out there and beat the crap out of whoever he’s playing against that day.”
Ortiz has been out since July 17 with a strained right Achilles’ tendon and is not expected to play this weekend. He took batting practice inside on Friday.
“They shut me down for a while,” Ortiz said. “Tomorrow, if I feel like I feel right now, then I will hit on the field. The next day, if I keep improving and feeling better, probably we add some other activities and go from there.”
Ortiz said missing two consecutive series against the Yankees in New York was particularly annoying because he loves taking aim at the short porch in right field.
“I wish I could play tonight. I’m dying to play. I don’t even have patience to watch the game when I don’t play,” he said. “When I have all this time off, I’m doing nothing but trying to be supportive for my teammates.”
Doubront to DL?
Felix Doubront, who last pitched Aug. 9, could retroactively go on the disabled list as early as Saturday given that the Sox have no plans to start him any time soon.
Doubront threw a three-inning simulated game Friday, something he will repeat next week. From there, the Sox will decide when to slot him into the rotation.
The 24-year-old lefthander was shut down after a rocky outing against the Indians in Cleveland. Doubront has thrown 122⅔ innings, 35 more than last season, and the Red Sox will be careful not to overwork him.
For the first time, Valentine mentioned Doubront having a knee injury.
That could be the reason to put him on the DL.
“He’ll be ready this next week to pitch. If we decide that we don’t need him until at the end of the week, we might even take that amount of time,” Valentine said.
Once Doubront returns, Valentine said the intent would be to use him in the rotation.
Franklin Morales is the first pitcher to allow four home runs in two games against the Yankees in the same season since Chicago’s Ted Lyons in 1937. No Sox pitcher had allowed four home runs in two games against the same team in the same season since 1918 . . . The Red Sox released righthander Mark Prior from the Triple A Pawtucket roster to make room for righthander Pedro Beato, who was acquired Thursday. Prior, 31, pitched 25 innings over 19 appearances and struck out 38 — but he also walked 23. Prior has not been in the majors since 2006 . . . Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had 18 RBIs in the first nine games against the Sox this season, was out of the lineup with a sore left wrist . . . Lefthander Rich Hill had his rehabilitation assignment shifted to Double A Portland and was scheduled to pitch Friday, but the game against New Britain was suspended by rain after five innings and Hill did not get in . . . Sox DHs are 28 of 116 (.241) without a home run since Ortiz went on the DL.