Last season, the colossal Red Sox collapse came in September. This season it’s been a long series of frustrations, bad news, bizarre happenings, and off-the-field incidents for the Red Sox right from spring training. We take a look back at some of the biggest issues that have derailed Boston in 2012:
Jan. 17: Wrist surgery for Carl Crawford
Crawford had surgery on his left wrist in Arizona. At the time, general manager Ben Cherington said Crawford should recover to play “the bulk” of the season. Crawford felt soreness when he started his offseason hitting workouts around Jan. 1. He had an MRI that showed cartilage damage, and arthroscopic surgery was recommended. Crawford had wrist issues in the past, but the discomfort had always passed. He later had Tommy John surgery on his elbow before being traded to the Dodgers.
Feb. 19: Apologies for 2011 few and far between
Josh Beckett wasn’t very contrite about September’s collapse when he arrived in Fort Myers. “I think that we had lapses in judgment,” Beckett said. “I had lapses in judgment. I can’t speak for everybody else. I want to keep it at that. I can’t speak for Jon [Lester], or John [Lackey], or Clay [Buchholz] or Wakey [Tim Wakefield], or anybody. It’s pretty much I want this to stay about me. That’s how I feel about it. I had some things going on. I was distracted. I think that was the biggest thing. I would definitely change those.”
Feb. 24: Bobby Jenks says error made in surgery
The relief pitcher said that an error during his surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital resulted in his needing emergency surgery in Arizona 18 days later. This episode raised questions about the team’s medical care. In March, Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence in Fort Myers. In July, the Red Sox reached a contract termination settlement with Jenks and he was placed on unconditional release waivers.
March 8: Jonathan Papelbon says Philadelphia fans know baseball better
The former Red Sox closer rocked Red Sox nation when he said the following to a Philadelphia radio station: “The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. The Philly fans, I think they tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played. I’ve had a guy take of his prosthetic leg and throw it in the bullpen in Boston.” Papelbon, who later backed off the criticism, earned a save against the Red Sox when he faced his former team for the first time on May 19.
March 27: Curt Schilling fires shot across the bow at Bobby Valentine
The former Sox starter, a longtime supporter of ex-Sox manager Terry Francona, may have started the anti-Valentine brigade when he spouted the following on WEEI: “I thought that the manager that managed the Mets that I was not a big fan of was now going to be a different manager, and I don’t think there’s anything different at all, and I don’t think that that is going to be conducive to doing well here. There’s a lot of things I think that are happening not just from his perspective, but when you talk to these guys -- and I’m still talking to some of these guys -- I don’t think this is going well. And I think it’s going bad quicker than I expected it to.” Valentine quickly dismissed Schilling’s remarks. “I just consider the source when I hear stuff like that,’’ he said.
April 2: Andrew Bailey has surgery on thumb
Bailey, acquired from the Athletics in the offseason to replace Jonathan Papelbon as the team’s closer, needed the operation to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament on his right thumb. Bailey was originally expected back just after the All-Star break but he did not make his Red Sox debut until Aug. 14.
April 4: Bobby Valentine gets New York radio show
Valentine’s decision to do a regular appearance on Yankees play-by-play broadcaster Michael Kay’s radio program in New York prompted some backlash among Red Sox fans. Valentine has ties in New York. “What, there aren’t any Red Sox fans in New York?” Valentine said.
April 13: Jacoby Ellsbury suffers shoulder injury that requires surgery
Ellsbury was injured in the home opener trying to break up a double play against the Rays. Tampa Bay shortstop Reid Brignac was upended on the play and landed on Ellsbury’s shoulder. Ellsbury, fresh off a near-MVP season, would miss the next three months and struggle at the plate after his return.
April 15: Criticism of Kevin Youkilis by Bobby Valentine
The most public of Valentine’s player criticisms caused the most commotion. During an interview in April, Valentine was asked about Youkilis and said, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.” The comment prompted Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to come to the defense of Youkilis, saying, “That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. Maybe that works in Japan.” Valentine apologized to Youkilis, but the third baseman was eventually traded to the White Sox.
April 20-21: Fenway’s 100th celebration precedes dreadful games
The Sox blew a 9-0 lead after the Yankees posted back-to-back seven-run innings in the seventh and eighth in New York’s shocking 15-9 win over Boston.
April 21: Reported rift between Bobby Valentine and Mike Aviles
Beckett and Crawford weren’t the only Red Sox players to have their mettle questioned by Valentine. A CBS Sports report during spring training suggested Valentine was not excited to use Aviles as his everyday shortstop, preferring prospect Jose Iglesias. New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden wrote that Valentine’s treatment of Aviles during an infield drill sparked a near-revolt by Red Sox players, according to a team source. Both Valentine and Aviles denied the incident ever happened.
April 21: Marlon Byrd lands at Fenway, later banned by MLB
With injuries plaguing the Red Sox outfield, Boston made a deal with Theo Epstein’s Cubs to land outfielder Marlon Byrd, who was a spark plug for Boston early on before being released by the team on June 12. On June 25, MLB suspended Byrd for 50 games after he tested positive for Tamoxifen, which can reduce side effects of steroid use and increase testosterone. It is often used to treat breast cancer patients.
April 25: Bobby Valentine’s lineup miscue
Valentine had to resubmit a lineup because he originally thought that Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks was a righty, not a lefty. When Jarrod Saltalamacchia informed his manager that Hendriks was a righthander, Valentine tore up the old lineup and posted a new one. “The one that was posted was for the lefthander that I thought was pitching today,” Valentine said.
April 27: Carl Crawford’s status worsens
Crawford’s injury status expanded from his wrist to his elbow while he was trying to recover from January surgery on his wrist. Soreness in the elbow never abated, to the point where the Red Sox sent him to see specialist Dr. James Andrews. By the end of April, the expectation was that Crawford would miss at least three months.
May 4: Fenway sellout streak a real numbers game
A Boston Globe analysis revealed that the Red Sox record-breaking sellout streak is actually more of a “distribution streak” where the team heavily relies on complimentary tickets to meet the sellout requirements. In one instance documented, free tickets were given out at the ticket window for a Red Sox game billed as a sellout.
May 6: Darnell McDonald takes loss in 17 inning battle with Baltimore
It took 39 innings all together, but the Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the Red Sox for the first time since 1994 with a 17-inning 9-6 win. Both teams used positional players as pitchers. Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald took the loss after giving up a three-run home run to Adam Jones in the 17th. Orioles DH Chris Davis picked up the win.
May 10: Josh Beckett shelled in first start after golfing controversy
In his first game back after missing a start with a sore lat muscle (a break in which he managed to squeeze in a round of golf) Beckett was hammered for seven runs in 2 1/2 innings by the Cleveland Indians at Fenway. After the 8-3 loss, a defiant Beckett told the media regarding the outing on the links: “My off day is my off day... We get 18 off days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves.” In the same game, a Red Sox fan wearing a bag on his head was visible in NESN’s camera shot behind home plate, and caused a stir across Red Sox Nation.
May 22: David Ortiz goes off on rant about being a leader
After questions surfaced about the late timing of a Red Sox team meeting called by Ortiz earlier in the month, the big Sox DH went off on the perception of him not being a leader to ESPNBoston.com. “I don’t give a [expletive] about anybody knowing what we talk about, No. 1. And No. 2, I don’t give a [expletive] what they call leaders.”
May 23: Bobby Valentine brings Kelly Shoppach concerns to the surface
After seeing red-hot Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s on the lineup card before a game in Baltimore, backup catcher Kelly Shoppach complained to Valentine about his playing time. The manager shared the news with reporters. “He left angry,” Valentine said of Shoppach’s complaints. “And I like playing him when he’s angry, I guess.”
June 3: Daniel Bard-as-starter experiment hits rock bottom
Bard, the reliever-turned-struggling starter, lasted just 1-2/3 innings for the Red Sox in Toronto, hitting two batters and walking six while allowing five earned runs in a 5-1 loss. He was subsequently demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket and did not return to the Boston bullpen until Aug. 30.
June 17: ESPN reports Red Sox clubhouse is ‘toxic’
In one of several out-of-town reports that was a harbinger for moves to come later in the season, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Red Sox had a “toxic” clubhouse. David Ortiz was quick to rebut Olney’s report. “It’s not like that, dog,’’ Ortiz said. “We all get along here. There’s not one guy here that has a problem with the other.”
June 21: Another David Ortiz outburst
After multiple reports of players being unhappy in Boston, and friction between Valentine and his coaches, Ortiz was asked by reporters if he’s having fun playing in Boston anymore. “Not really. Too much [expletive], man. Too much [expletive],” Ortiz said. “It’s becoming to be the [expletive] hole that it used to be. … Playing here used to be so much fun. Now, every day it’s something new not related with baseball. People need to leave us alone [to] play ball, man.”
June 25: Kevin Youkilis traded to White Sox
With a Red Sox career that was highlighted by two World Series titles under his belt and a grinding, hard-working style that endeared him to fans, Youkilis was sent to Chicago for righthander Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge. Boston also picked up $5.5 million of the $6.6 million Youkilis had remaining on his contract. Youkilis tripled in his final at-bat in a Red Sox uniform, during the seventh inning of a win over the Braves and received a huge Fenway ovation when he was removed from the game.
June 27: Clay Buchholz hospitalized with esophagitis
The Red Sox righthander spent five days at Mass. General Hospital where he was diagnosed with esophagitis, which led to an erosion of the esophagus, and an associated bleed. “They were trying to downplay it, but when you’re laying in an ICU [intensive care unit], where I’m from it usually means that stuff’s not going really well,’’ Buchholz said. “Once I got out of there, the doctors were pretty upfront about it, saying it wasn’t really life-threatening at this point. They just had me in [the ICU] to make sure that I wasn’t really losing any more blood.’’
July 4: David Ortiz expresses concern with contract again
Ortiz told USA Today’s Jorge Ortiz in an extensive Spanish-language interview that he felt “humiliated” and “embarrassed” about his contract situation. Ortiz, who was hitting .302 with 22 home runs at the time, accepted arbitration and then agreed in the offseason to a one-year, $14.575 million deal, a $2.025 million raise from the year before. He was seeking a two-year contract.
July 12 Bobby Valentine debuts controversial movie
Valentine was executive producer for a film, “Ballplayer: Pelotero”, that followed two prospects as they prepared for the signing season in the Dominican Republic. The movie won critical acclaim, but was not popular with Major League Baseball executives because it showed the sometimes unsavory side of baseball in developing countries.
July 13: Larry Lucchino sends rallying email to season ticket holders
After a frustrating first half of the season, the Red Sox president sent a letter to season ticket holders that highlighted players -- not manager Bobby Valentine -- and told fans to keep the faith. “Personalities are enhancing the chemistry, such as the cheerful Cody Ross, the friendly Mike Aviles, and the inspiring story of Daniel Nava.” The letter ended, “We want to play October Baseball this year.”
July 16: David Ortiz suffers Achilles injury
Ortiz injured his right Achilles while rounding second base on Adrian Gonzalez’s three-run homer in the eighth inning against the White Sox. The injury wasn’t immediately thought to be as serious as it turned out to be, as he would play sparingly over the next two months. Ortiz was leading the team in many offensive categories at the time of his injury.
July 16: Bill James reprimanded for Joe Paterno comments
Team owner John Henry and Ben Cherington spoke to James, a senior advisor, regarding him making public his personal opinions on Joe Paterno. James, who defended Paterno in the wake of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal online and on radio, was informed that his comments in no way reflect the opinions or positions of the Red Sox; and, because he is perceived as a representative of the Red Sox, he was asked to refrain from any further public comments on this matter.
July 22: Jon Lester allows 11 runs in loss
Lester allowed a career-worst 11 runs against the Blue Jays in a 15-7 loss at Fenway Park. Lester allowed nine hits and four homers in four-plus innings, walking five and striking out two. the start dropped his record and ERA to 5-8 and 5.46. The start was later reported as the apparent cause for a team meeting with ownership.
July 28: Terry Francona holds court in Sox clubhouse
The former Red Sox manager, in his role as an ESPN analyst, met with players in the Red Sox clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. The sight of the team’s former manager sitting down and shooting the breeze with his old team didn’t sit well with some, particularly given the new manager’s inconsistent popularity with those same players. Francona later apologized to Valentine. Valentine said the apology wasn’t necessary, but he appreciated it.
July 30: Ryan Sweeney punches door, breaks hand
The outfielder hurt his hand by punching a door after he was made an out in the eighth inning of a game against the Tigers. Sweeney was soon deemed out for the season. Just a day shy of the trading deadline, he had been rumored to be involved in trade talks before his injury.
Aug. 1: Bobby Valentine’s comments to Will Middlebrooks bubble up
Valentine told WEEI ownership came to him after someone went to them about comments he made to rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Valentine said they were playfully teasing comments after Middlebrooks had a tough inning in the field. In Valentine’s words: “[Middlebrooks] came into the dugout, he made a couple of errors, and I said, ‘Nice inning, kid.’ I had thought I had established a relationship with him where I could say something like that and he would try to smile or relax a little. Maybe he grimaced, I don’t know, but somebody overheard it and decided that it was a very dreadful thing for a manager to say to a young player, and decided to repeat it a few times, this dreadful thing.”
Aug. 4: Twins humiliate Red Sox
The Twins, 16 games under .500 when they arrived in Boston, won their third straight game in Fenway Park in dramatic fashion. They scored four times in the ninth inning off closer Alfredo Aceves, including a three-run home by Joe Mauer. The loss was the Red Sox’ fourth in a row, and solidified their falling place in the playoff race.
Aug. 6: John Henry gives Bobby Valentine vote of confidence
The Red Sox owner publicly backed his manager by writing in an email to reporters: “We are not making a change in manager.” General manger Ben Cherington added, “I don’t think it’s fair to direct it at any one person. We’re collectively responsible and Bobby’s one of those people, so am I, so are the players, so are the coaches and so is everyone.”
Aug. 10: Will Middlebrooks breaks wrist
Less than two months after trading away Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox lost another third baseman for the rest of the season. Middlebrooks, who had impressed early with his bat, broke his wrist after Cleveland reliever Esmil Rogers hit him with a 96-mile-per-hour fastball.
Aug. 13: Sox legend Johnny Pesky dies
The fan favorite died at 92 years old. The loss was a significant blow to Red Sox Nation, as he had been an ambassador to the franchise for more than half a century. After his funeral, it was revealed that only four current players attended the service, and David Ortiz said more of his teammates “probably” should have attended.
Aug. 14: Report of players-owners meeting emerges
Yahoo! Sports reported that Red Sox players blasted Valentine to team ownership during a meeting in late July after Valentine left starter Jon Lester in a game in which he gave up 11 runs. Chaos swirled around the team after the report, though the team and many players denied that there was a plea to fire Valentine.
Aug. 19: Kelly Shoppach revealed as source of text message
Shoppach, dealt to the Mets days earlier, was reportedly the man behind a text message that prompted the controversial players meeting with management.
Aug. 20: Bob McClure fired as Red Sox pitching coach
McClure was replaced by Randy Niemann for the remainder of the season. McClure and manager Bobby Valentine had a rocky relationship starting in spring training and there were multiple reports of poor communication between the two throughout the season.
Aug. 21: Expose reveals communication gaps bedeviling Bobby Valentine and his staff
A Globe story reveals wide fractures between Valentine and his coaching staff, some of whom he was encouraged to hire by Red Sox management. At one point, bench coach Tim Bogar and pitching coach Bob McClure (who was later fired) considered asking for reassignments.
Aug. 21: Red Sox opt for more surgery for Carl Crawford
The team announced the outfielder would undergo Tommy John elbow surgery, with the hope that he would be able to return in time for the start of the 2013 season.
Aug. 25: Red Sox complete blockbuster deal with Dodgers
The Sox dealt Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers in exchange for James Loney and four prospects. The move signaled that team executives were more focused on winning in 2013 instead of 2012.
Aug. 25: Alfredo Aceves suspended three games
The Red Sox suspended the righthander for “conduct detrimental to the team” following a confrontation with manager Bobby Valentine. Aceves had a closed-door meeting in Valentine’s office after the Red Sox a game with the Royals in which he was angry that he was not used to close the 4-3 game.
Sept. 1: Tom Werner accepts blame for bad season
The Red Sox chairman said the team’s ownership group was as frustrated with the fans and unable to explain why things have gone so wrong over the past two seasons. He declined to comment on Bobby Valentine’s status for 2013. “I don’t want to talk too much about him,” he said. “But he’s had a challenging year. I think, as we’ve said before, he’s doing a good job.”
Sept. 3: Ownership joins team in Seattle
Amid a disastrous road trip, owner John Henry and GM Ben Cherington joined the Red Sox on the third leg of their trip in Seattle. They met with Bobby Valentine, but insisted they were not there to fire the manager.
Sept. 5: Bobby Valentine has outburst on radio show
During an interview with WEEI, Valentine said he would punch host Glenn Ordway after a question about whether he had “checked out” of his job. Valentine said he was joking. But the manager also passionately bristled at questions about his commitment and his personal schedule.
Sept. 5: Red Sox go 1-8 on road trip
In perhaps the exclamation point that ended their postseason hopes, the Red Sox lost 2-1 in Seattle to finish a 1-8 road trip that also stopped in Anaheim and Oakland. The Red Sox were outscored 63-21 during the trip.
Sept. 13: John Henry denies team is for sale
After a Fox Business report claimed the Red Sox were “quietly shopping” the team for a sale, Henry, the principal owner, refuted the report. He said it was “completely without foundation” and added he was committed to staying in Boston long-term. Henry also said that the Red Sox had signed team president Larry Lucchino to a long-term extension.
Sept. 14: Bobby Valentine says Red Sox have ‘weakest roster’
The manager said the Red Sox’ September depth chart was inadequate, especially with Pawtucket having played into its postseason for the AAA championship. Asked if there was a specific area of his roster that needed reinforcement, Valentine said, “Are you kidding? This is the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball. We could use help everywhere. We’ve got four outfielders and it’s September, yeah. We’ve got four infielders, it’s September — of course. If there are people who could be brought up, we should bring ’em up, but I don’t know that there’s a lot of guys left.’’ Valentine later backpedaled from the remark, saying that he meant “weakest” in terms of quantity, not quality.
Sept. 19: Red Sox clinch losing season
With a 13-3 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox ensured their first losing season since 1997. The loss dropped them to 68-82. Daisuke Matsuzaka took the loss to fall to 1-6.
Sept. 30: Red Sox surpass 90-loss mark for first time in 46 years
A 6-3 loss in Baltimore dropped the Red Sox’ record to 69-90 and marked the first time they had hit that loss plateau since 1966. Every other team in MLB had at least one 90-loss season in the 46 years between the times the Red Sox recorded the dubious feat.
Oct. 2: Red Sox secure ensure last-place finish
Boston blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium and lost 4-3 in 12 innings for its 92nd loss of the season. The defeat ensured that the Red Sox would hold sole possession of last place in the AL East when the season ends. It marks the team’s first last-place finish since 1992.
Oct. 3: Bobby Valentine says coaches undermined him
In a radio interview, the Red Sox manager said he felt his coaches were disloyal, though he said that had “very little” to do with how the team struggled. There are situations during the year where I didn’t think it was all for one or one for all, or whatever it is,” he said, without naming the coaches.
Oct. 3: Red Sox lose finale to cement worst season since 1965
The Red Sox fell 14-2 in the season finale at the Yankees, their 12th loss in the seasons’ final 13 games. They finished 69-73, their worst mark in 47 years. They were 26 games behind the first-place Yankees.