FORT MYERS, Florida (AP) ― There will be no drinking in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse this season.
The team will ban alcohol in the clubhouse and on the last plane flight of road trips, new manager Bobby Valentine announced on Saturday.
The move comes in the wake of last season’s September collapse in the AL East, a tailspin that included reports of Boston starting pitchers drinking beer in the clubhouse on their off-days rather than supporting their teammates in the dugout.
It’s one of a handful of new rules that Valentine is imposing in his first season as Red Sox manager, and he laid them out with team ownership by his side in a meeting Saturday morning before Boston’s first full-squad workout of the spring.
“It’s just what I’ve always done, except for when I was in Texas, I guess,” Valentine said when asked why he banned booze. “I’m comfortable with it that way.”
When asked how the players reacted to the news, Valentine said, “You mean like standing ovation or booing? I didn’t get either of those.”
Veteran David Ortiz didn’t bat an eye.
“We’re not here to drink. We’re here to play baseball,” the slugger said. “This ain’t no bar. If you want to drink, drink at home.”
Last season, the Red Sox went 7-20 in September and allowed their nine-game lead in the AL East to swirl down the drain. After manager Terry Francona’s team missed the playoffs, the Boston Globe reported that starting pitchers including Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester spent some of their off-days drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.
Both Beckett and Lester said last week that mistakes were made last season and both vowed it wouldn’t happen again.
Valentine has made sure of that.
Ever since taking over for Francona, who guided the Red Sox to two World Series titles in eight seasons and had a reputation as a laid-back manager, Valentine has stressed personal responsibility and accountability with his players.