BOSTON -- It was quite evident during batting practice on Saturday at Fenway Park that the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays players and coaches were going out of their way to shake hands, give hugs and talk more than usual in an attempt to smooth things over from Friday night’s bench-clearing altercation.
Whether those are acts of kindness or guerilla warfare tactics remain to be seen at this point.
Friday’s scrum began in the top of the ninth inning after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales drilled Tampa batter Luke Scott. No one was ejected but the respective coaching staffs were visible going at each other during the massive shoving and screaming match near home plate.
One Red Sox staffer said he did not appreciate some of the comments the Rays were making about Boston manager Bobby Valentine during the tussle. In fact, Tampa skipper Joe Maddon said after the game he believed there was a “hit” put out on Scott and called the Red Sox coaching staff “cowardly” and weak” for the way they acted.
Valentine’s philosophy is coaches should try to stop events such as Friday night's from escalating, but he also thought Tampa’s coaching staff aggravated the situation.
“I thought their coaches were really aggressive,” Valentine said. “As a matter of fact, I took offense to the aggressiveness of their coaches. I thought it was very unprofessional and I really was proud of the way my coaches were trying to do what they were supposed to do in those situations. [Tampa’s coaches] seemed very immature and out of control.”
Valentine also did not like Maddon’s comments about the Red Sox coaching staff calling for the “hit” on Scott.
“Is that how they do it there? When they throw at our guys it comes from the coaches, you mean? Oh. I don’t know about protocol or how things are done on their side, and I don’t think they know how things are done on our side. Whatever.”
Despite the events of Friday and the history between these two clubs in recent years, Valentine said he didn’t think each side would be issued a warning before Saturday’s game.
“It seems like a pretty veteran umpiring crew,” he said. “I don’t know if they’ll have to issue warnings before the game starts, but possibly.”
When Friday’s scrum began and the Tampa dugout emptied, Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure was one of the first out of the home dugout.
“We’re in it to win it,” Valentine said. “There was no doubt that the coaching staff, me and the players were together -- unified.”
Valentine said he did not plan on speaking with Maddon before Saturday’s game, but added he really liked the Rays’ manager. Valentine is even contemplating bringing the scorecard to home plate before the game, which is usually the job of bench coach Tim Bogar.
“Maybe I’ll take it up tonight. I’ve taken it up a couple of times this year,” Valentine said. “Yeah, maybe I’ll take it up to see what everyone’s temperature is before it starts.”