TORONTO -- Two days after saying he was working with “the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball,” Bobby Valentine tried to sound a conciliatory note on Sunday.
At the end of his pregame media availability Sunday, Valentine volunteered a clarification of his comment made Friday.
“The other day when I made a comment about our September roster, that wasn't meant to be a criticism of any players or anything in the organization,” Valentine said. “It's a statement of fact because of the injuries and our Triple-A team in the playoffs. This is different. We have less people than most September rosters. We have less positions filled than any September roster I've ever seen before.
“Anybody who thought that to be anything other than a statement of what it was, stand corrected on that.”
Boston’s top farm team, the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, wrapped up a three-game sweep of Charlotte last Thursday to claim their first International League crown since 1984.
The PawSox moved on to Tuesday’s one-game, winner-take-all showdown with the Reno Aces, who won their first Pacific Coast League title Saturday, beating Omaha in four games. Reno is the top farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Before Friday’s game, Valentine was asked whether there was a particular area of his team that could most use some extra help.
“Are you kidding?” he responded. “This is the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball. It could use help everywhere.”
On Sunday, Valentine said it was an absence of depth, not quality, that led to his latest outburst.
“Usually a September roster has some starting pitchers who are waiting in the wings,” Valentine said Sunday. “Ours doesn’t. Usually a September roster has some left-handed pinch-hitter type guys, or pinch runners, five or six outfielders. We have four outfielders. It's not like a September roster.”
What Valentine failed to explain is why reinforcements have not been drafted in from Pawtucket, their playoff run notwithstanding. That question might be better directed at first year GM Ben Cherington, who is not travelling with the team this weekend.
The PawSox have six players who are on Boston’s 40-man roster but aren’t with the big club: pitchers Pedro Beato, Drake Britton, Stolmy Pimentel and Zach Stewart, infielder Danny Valencia and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin. Of that group, Britton and Pimentel spent most of the year at Double-A and aren’t yet major league-ready.
Valentine has said he hopes to add “one or two” players after Pawtucket’s season ends Tuesday, with an extra outfielder at the top of his wish list.
Boston is actually carrying five outfielders but Ryan Kalish, who had shoulder surgery earlier this year, is only available for pinch-running and pinch-hitting.
Middlebrooks recently had the cast removed from his broken right wrist, but is unlikely to swing a bat again this season, according to Valentine.
“He doesn't think it's going to be a swinging situation,” Valentine said. “He's fielding and getting his work in and dealing with frustration. ”
Asked whether Middlebrooks might get some at-bats in winter ball or elsewhere, Valentine said he’s not aware of any such plans.