Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia says he does not have a problem with manager Bobby Valentine and did not push for his dismissal during a meeting between the struggling team's players and ownership in late July.
That statement flies in direct contrast to Tuesday's Yahoo! Sports report that Pedroia was one of the most vocal members in the group that opposes Valentine, who is in his first year with the team. The former AL MVP also reportedly took a picture near a sleeping Valentine with a caption that read "our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m."
[Jeff Passan's exclusive: Red Sox stars blast Valentine in heated meeting with ownership]
Pedroia did not address the Yahoo! Sports story before Tuesday's 7-1 loss in Baltimore, saying "I just want to play baseball." He did tackle the topic afterward, though, offering both a confirmation of the team meeting and an unexpected defense of Valentine. (Adrian Gonzalez, it should be noted, did not offer such a defense, only noting that the team still hadn't played well since the meeting.)
Here are Pedroia's comments (via WEEI's Rob Bradford):
(AP)"We had a meeting. I'll be honest with everybody. We had a meeting in New York. Coaches had a meeting, Bobby had a meeting, we all had a meeting. Basically, when I spoke, I said we all need to be better. That includes owners, Bobby, coaches, and especially the players.
"I've had one problem with Bobby earlier in the year and I went into his office and I talked to him like a man, and he talked to me like a man. And we've been great. We've had a great relationship. That's all I can really say about it. I'll go out and play for him any day of the week. I'm playing for all my teammates. It's unfortunate that all this stuff comes out.
"I know we lost last year and we made huge signings and all kinds of stuff, but we're trying to play the game the right way and have an organization that does things right, and just play winning baseball. It's tough when all this stuff comes out, that everyone's trying to get the manager fired. That's not the case, man. I've never met the guy that wrote the story.
"I don't think Bobby should be fired. Listen, we haven't played well. I mean, that's the bottom line. I'm not going to blame anything on Bobby, and I don't think anyone else is. It's on the players. Last year wasn't on Tito. I know he took it hard. We all did. I mean, geez. It's on the players."
Said Valentine of the controversy du jour: "I'm glad that July is over because they're still playing for me."
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