Bobby Valentine fires back at Rays

BOSTON -- After his coaching staff was strongly criticized by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon for its role in a bench-clearing scrum Friday night, Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine returned fire on Saturday.

Valentine said Rays coaches aggravated the situation and acted unprofessional, immature and out of control. He said coaches should try to stop events such as Friday night's from escalating, but thought Tampa's coaching staff made the situation worse.

"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."

Friday's altercation began in the top of the ninth inning after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales drilled Rays batter Luke Scott. No one was ejected but the respective coaching staffs went 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 Valentine during the scrum. 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 it acted.

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."

Maddon also said after Friday's game that the Red Sox "can get their own guys hurt with their kind of behavior.

"Quite frankly, I think it was ridiculous, and I think it's absurd, idiotic. I'll use all those different words," Maddon added.

Before Saturday's game, Maddon said he didn't want to talk about the altercation but made a point of expressing his respect for the Red Sox players, without mentioning the coaching staff.

"I covered everything about that that I wanted to last night," Maddon told reporters. "The thing I'd like to cover today, if I may, is how much respect I have for the Red Sox players. Been doing this now for seven or eight years in the American League East and I have a strong feeling for the professionalism of the Red Sox players for that entire time.

"So as we move this thing forward, I think we have that same kind of group here with the Rays players. We come here to play baseball, we like to play it hard every night, we kind of like to think of it as the Rays way of doing things. But my whole focus now is on this game tonight and I definitely want to put out there how much respect I do have for the Boston Red Sox players.''

Despite the events of Friday and the history between the clubs in recent years, Valentine 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."

It was quite evident during batting practice Saturday at Fenway Park that the Red Sox and 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 incident.

Whether those are acts of kindness or gamesmanship remains to be seen.

When Friday's scrum first 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 said before the game he was contemplating bringing the scorecard to home plate before the game, which is usually the job of bench coach Tim Bogar, but Bogar did the honors.

"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."