Bobby Valentine: No rift with GM

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine on Monday dismissed reports of a potential rift between him and general manager Ben Cherington on roster decisions, calling it "lazy journalism."

"It's an easy story to write, that has no validity to it," Valentine said before his Red Sox took on the Philadelphia Phillies. "I could have written that Dec. 3.''

In the wake of several reports that Valentine and the front office were torn on whether Jose Iglesias was ready to be the team's starting shortstop, and Valentine's critical comments about Daniel Bard following his outing last week, a Boston Globe columnist suggested that perhaps there was a rift growing between the manager and general manager.

Valentine said he probably has had fewer differences of opinion with Cherington than other GMs he has worked with because he's still in a learning phase with this team.

"I'm watching," he said. "For the first three weeks, I'm looking. Pieces fit into puzzle. Sometimes they don't fit."

After Bard struggled last week and Valentine was critical of the pitcher, rumors surfaced that perhaps Valentine wasn't in favor of the front office's plan to convert him into a starter from a reliever.

Valentine was much more effusive in his praise of Bard after his last start Sunday, even as the right-hander gave up five runs in six innings.

The Red Sox are expected to make their key roster decisions, including final spots in the rotation and bullpen, on Monday night in Fort Myers, Fla., where Valentine, Cherington and their staffs will meet. It's unclear when the team will make those expected decisions public.

Valentine said on most days, he has communicated with Cherington "a few times" daily. He said that in some ways, his relationship is similar to the one he had in Texas with Tom Grieve, who was already in the organization when Valentine was hired as the Rangers' manager.

"There was a lot of sharing he had to do to get me caught up," he said.

When the Red Sox staff has assembled to discuss cuts, Valentine said, Cherington polls everyone for their opinions, finishing with the manager.

"I try to keep many of my opinions real close to the vest," Valentine said. "I don't know if anybody knows totally what I'm thinking. In between 'cut meetings,' I try to pick brains. I think I have a better idea what the coaches think about the players than they know what I think."

The manager also said he was satisfied with the roster, and did not believe the club needed any help from outside at the start of the season.