An angry, frustrated David Ortiz Friday came out in support of manager Bobby Valentine and said the negativity afflicting the Red Sox clubhouse was affecting play, calling it the worst he'd ever seen during his 10 years with the club.
"I was really mad," he said in a candid 20-minute interview in the visiting dugout at the Stadium. "The other day, [Dustin] Pedroia was playing baseball out there [angry] and not focused on what he wants to do because that report came out saying he was against the manager. How do you think he's going to feel out there?"
Ortiz, who said the heavily criticized Valentine was "doing great," added that the Red Sox's bad luck with injuries -- his own included -- has been more of a factor in the team's lack of success, though intense media scrutiny hasn't helped.
Valentine, however, exonerated the media after president Larry Lucchino said the media deserved some of the blame for the Red Sox's turmoil before Friday night's game. "The media has nothing to do with our season," Valentine said, adding: "I don't think any one thing explains the [58-61 record before Friday's game] or where we are [in the standings] other than I haven't managed some situations as well as they could have been managed."
The Sox have had 25 players on the DL this season for 29 stints, the most for the team since 1971. Ortiz, who has been out for a month with an injury to his right Achilles, was shut down for five days before taking soft-toss batting practice Friday before the game.
"It's hard here," Ortiz said when asked if he wanted to leave. "It's hard. This is a big market and you're going to deal with things. My only complaint about it is it's been left and right this year. More than what I can remember . . .
"The last couple of years it's been a roller coaster the way things have been handled around here. Hopefully it will get better because playing the game is hard enough but then having to deal with some of the [stuff] afterwards, I don't think it's fair."
Ortiz repeatedly referenced Pedroia, who was caught in the middle of a Yahoo! Sports report that he, along with a number of other players, met with management in late July asking that Valentine be fired. Pedroia admitted to meeting with the front office, but denied asking for Valentine's head.
Pedroia's frustration "hurt me, because I know my man," Ortiz said. "I know Pedroia . . . Pedroia is the guy that you want to come to the field to watch him play. And just watch him not being able to focus that day . . . especially in the situation we're in, it's kind of [messed] up."
Though not naming his teammates specifically, Ortiz added that Pedroia wasn't the only one to show ill effects of the turmoil. "It's been really bad this year," he said. "And we have a lot of new guys and they're not used to that. You don't know how anybody's going to react."
He added that reports like the online story "come out for a reason."
"It comes out because there's a lot of negativity around here, because who cares if a player's against a manager? We've got to deal with the manager, anyway. A manager is not something you can go and change like you change your underwear."
Valentine, he added, wasn't the reason the Red Sox were in fourth place in the AL East. "I guarantee that if he doesn't have that many guys going to the DL for the year, history would be different," Ortiz said. "He can't manage the team and at the same time go play for us."