source– FORT MYERS, Fla. — For a team that won 93 games and a division title, the Boston Red Sox rarely seemed to be having any fun last year. Now, as they prepare for a new season with practically the same roster, two prominent players are admitting there were problems in the clubhouse.
Mookie Betts said Thursday that the 2017 Red Sox felt “tension in the locker room.” Xander Bogaerts took it further, describing “head-butts” and “disagreements” and expressing a need for the team to learn from the experience and go forward.
“I mean, we all know. We all know what was going on,” Bogaerts said. “I don’t think I really want to get into details. The quicker we move on is the better for all of us.”
The Red Sox spent 105 days in first place last season and won the American League East by two games over the surging New York Yankees. But they fell in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive year, absorbing a pair of 8-2 blowouts in the first two games against the Houston Astros and getting eliminated in Game 4 at Fenway Park.
Mini-controversies were ever present with the Red Sox last season.
In April, television cameras caught second baseman Dustin Pedroia shouting, “It’s not me, it’s them,” at Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado after Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw a pitch behind Machado’s head. Left-hander David Price screamed at a reporter in a hallway underneath Yankee Stadium in June then humiliated Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the team plane a month later for an innocuous comment during a TV broadcast. In August, a trainer was caught using a smartwatch to relay stolen signs to players.
“I think [there was] just tension in the locker room as far as if things were down,” Betts said. “We could have had more fun. Through the rough times, I think those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much.”
Said Bogaerts: “We had a lot of stuff going on last year, to be honest. We all live and learn. We can’t just sit back and keep reminding ourselves about the past. That’s not something we want to do.”
Uhhhhh, ya think?
Last season sucked for the Red Sox. As bad as a division-winning season could be. Chris Sale was the best pitcher in the league for the first half then just ran out of gas and got destroyed in the playoffs. David Price was hurt all year and his prickly relationship with the very prickly Boston media ruin what should have been a pretty inspirational return to the bullpen. Every week they had a new feud with a different team. I completely forgot about the stupid Apple Watch scandal. Everyone just seemed so out of it and so pouty and everything just sucked. Saying there was tension in the Red Sox clubhouse is like saying LeBron doesn’t like Isaiah Thomas.
But, I don’t know if you heard, but pitchers and catchers reported, which means all the problems go away. They also have a new manager, so now all the problems definitely go away. That’s how it works, right? I’m actually pretty pumped for Alex Cora to take over, but the only way anything changes is if the players actually start caring again. And let’s be honest- unless something crazy happens this team isn’t going to sniff the World Series. The Yankees, Astros, and Indians are all better than them, and the Red Sox big move is probably going to be signing Logan Morrison. Yipee. So, unlike last year, the expectations are pretty much gone. If they just become a fun team to watch and grab one of the Wild Card spots, I’d be perfectly happy with the season. But if this keeps snowballing and becomes Chicken and Beer, pt. 2, then I don’t see how they don’t make even more wholesale changes. Not to spoil my eventual MLB preview, but I’m of the mind that they’ll make the playoffs, if for no other reason than they have a manager with a brain. But, not to dip too far into the Boston talk show host waters, the Sox do a lot of bitching to the media. Maybe tone down the complaining just a little? The team needs a little more mental toughness to ever reach their potential, I don’t think that’s too warm of a take. I think Alex Cora can certainly help with that. If you’re actually enjoying yourself, odds are you’ll play better. But, at the same time, you shouldn’t need to be having fun to play well. If you’re a professional, you should be able to motivate yourself regardless of the situation and not then blame it on outside circumstances. Which is what a lot of Red Sox like to do. I don’t know, I feel like I’m already talking myself out of this season, which I definitely don’t want to do, so I’ll just stop.
TL;DR- Sox need to grow up.