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Bobby Valentine says Japanese pitchers aim to get to a 3-2 count

One of the reasons Daisuke Matsuzaka has failed to pitch deep into games since joining the Red Sox is that he walks so many hitters. While he has pitched rather effectively in his first MLB season, Yu Darvish has had a similar issue. According to Bobby Valentine, that isn’t a coincidence.

Valentine recently said that Japanese pitchers strive to get to a 3-2 count, as any pitch when there is a full count is considered the “pitch of reckoning.” While he says this is the way the rule book literally lays the game out, I find it hard to believe that any pitcher who understands the rules of baseball would rather get himself into a full count than get ahead of a hitter 0-2. The concept of the “payoff pitch” is exciting in the MLB, but it’s far more difficult for a hitter to be behind in the count. Then again, Valentine did spend a lot of time in Japan. He would know better than I would.

Photo credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Bobby Valentine not opposed to automated balls and strikes, says umpires can’t do it

The Red Sox are sliding once again, and Bobby Valentine has decided to take his frustration out on the league’s umpires. Valentine was unhappy with a number of calls during Boston’s series against Miami over the weekend, and he was ejected on Sunday for arguing balls and strikes. On Monday, he sounded off on the umpiring and came awfully close to calling for an automated balls and strikes system.

“When I did the Little League World Series (for ESPN), I thought it was the most criminal thing I ever saw, I wanted to cry, when a kid, in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and his team down by one run, was called out on a strike three that was six inches outside,” Valentine said according to CSNNE.com. “He couldn’t reach it with his bat. I cried for him. And that kid is scarred for life, playing our game, by an injustice.

“And then someone says the most ridiculous words that I ever hear: ‘But we like the human factor.’ It was criminal that we allow our game to scar a young person like that. And then it continues on. I think, in 2012, it should not be part of the process. I don’t think it should be.”

Valentine was reminded that humans make mistakes and stopped just barely short of saying that umpires should be removed in favor of an automated system of calling balls and strikes.

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David Ortiz reportedly called team meeting to defend Bobby Valentine

It could be a complete coincidence, but the Red Sox have played particularly well since David Ortiz called a players-only meeting for the team back on May 11. Since that day, Boston has gone 12-5 — their best stretch of baseball this season. The most obvious reason for Ortiz’s meeting was that his team was well under .500 and playing horribly. As we recently found out, another reason may have been that he was tired of the way his teammates were treating their new manager.

“I was feeling really bad about Bobby the way things were going and it was because I can see the frustration on his face,” Ortiz said according to ESPNBoston.com. “His hands were tied because he was trying to do things to help us out and it wasn’t working, but it wasn’t his fault. We weren’t executing, so at the end of the day the manager gets blamed, but it’s not his fault. He might make a move, but we need to execute.

“I saw his frustrations and I felt like s***. Part of the reason why is we need to get together and talk about things and chat about things as players, because players make great managers but you need to play well for that to happen.”

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Umpire Gary Darling’s gum gets in Bobby Valentine’s face during argument (Video)

Bobby Valentine earned his first ejection as Red Sox manager Friday night. And, boy, was it a doozy. Valentine came out to argue a close play at first base as the Sox were trying to mount a late comeback in the ninth against the Phillies. Umpire Gary Darling disposed of Valentine before long, but not until Bobby V got an incidental face full of Darling’s Bazooka gum mid-expletive. Enjoy:

Here’s another look at the Great Gum Exchange. Valentine’s reaction is amazing:

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Bobby Valentine researches opposing pitcher on cell phone, posts wrong lineup

Those who follow the Red Sox very closely may have noticed that Bobby Valentine made some late changes to his lineup on Wednesday. Lineup cards are shuffled across baseball on a daily basis, typically because of injuries and illness or changes an opponent might make in the hours leading up to the game. As Bobby V. showed us, there are also rare instances when a manager makes an error researching an opponent on his cell phone and fills out the wrong lineup because of it.

As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com pointed out, Valentine initially had right-handed hitters Kelly Shoppach and Darnell McDonald in the lineup a few hours before Wednesday game against the Twins. He laters swapped them out for left-handed hitters Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Sweeney, and here’s why:

“I looked on this thing and there was no history on (Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks),” Valentine said pointing to his cell phone. “It had his name, and ‘against left-handed hitting.’ My fault. That’s why you make these lineups out early enough.”

Hendriks is a right-hander. Apparently Bobby V. saw “against left-handed hitting” and thought he was a left-handed pitcher. Fortunately, Saltalamacchia caught the error in time. The Red Sox catcher drove home two runs in the 6-5 victory, so it’s a good thing he discovered the mistake. Learn how to use a cell phone, Bobby. We wouldn’t want to see things get uglier in Boston than they already are.

Photo credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Bobby Valentine apologized to Kevin Youkilis over commitment comments

When he arrived at the ballpark on Monday morning, it didn’t take Bobby Valentine long to realize that his first order of business on Marathon Monday in Boston was to apologize to his third baseman. When Kevin Youkilis came into Valentine’s office, the Sox manager thought he was going to give him a status update on his sore groin. Instead, Youkilis was seeking an explanation for Valentine’s puzzling interview on Sunday, during which he questioned Youk’s level of commitment.

“When he told me that people called him and told him that I said things that he didn’t like, I totally apologized,” Valentine said according to the Boston Globe. “I said the last thing in the world I want you to think is that I’m doing anything to criticize you. I was giving an answer to a question and I should’ve been more specific and said your physical was about your swing and your emotional was not being happy when you don’t hit a ball off the wall.

“I don’t know if he accepted my apology, but it was very sincere. The last thing in the world is that I didn’t want him to think that this was anything but an answer to a question that seemed to be jabbing at him. I was just trying to smooth it over and I guess that I didn’t.”

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Bobby Valentine questions Kevin Youkilis’ commitment; Dustin Pedroia not happy

At some point this season, Bobby Valentine’s mouth will get him into trouble. Knowing what we know about Bobby V., there’s just no way he can go a full 162-game schedule without saying something he shouldn’t to the media or his team. His first slip-up may have come before Boston’s game against the Rays on Sunday, when he questioned Kevin Youkilis’ level of commitment in the wake of Youk’s slow start at the plate.

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,” on WHDH-TV’s SportsXTra according to ESPNBoston.com. “But (on Saturday) it seemed, you know, he’s seeing the ball well, got those two walks, got his on-base percentage up higher than his batting average, which is always a good thing, and he’ll move on from there.”

The comments did not sit well with Youkilis, who is hitting only .200 to start the season but looked better over the weekend. In the past, it has been said that Youk needs to learn to channel his emotions and he even once got into an argument with Manny Ramirez because Manny basically said he was sick of Youkilis caring too much.

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