TORONTO Bobby Valentine insisted he wasn’t trying to be critical when he said his struggling Red Sox had “the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball.”
Two days after his latest inflammatory remark, Valentine tried to explain himself before Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays, offering an unsolicited clarification at the end of his morning media session.
“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,” Valentine added.
Last Thursday, the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox completed a three-game sweep of Charlotte to win its first International League championship since 1984. Pawtucket will play a one game final against the Pacific Coast League champion Reno Aces, Arizona’s top farm team, in Durham, N.C., on Tuesday.
Before Friday’s game, Valentine was asked what part of his team would benefit most from some extra call-ups.
“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, however, Valentine seemed eager to add some context to his comments.
“Usually a September roster has some starting pitchers who are waiting in the wings,” Valentine said. “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.”
Boston has five active outfielders but Ryan Kalish, who had shoulder surgery this season, is not expected to play.
Thanks to victories Friday and Saturday, the Red Sox have moved out of last place in the AL East, percentage points ahead of Toronto.
Boston’s roster has been thinned by trades and injuries. Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto were dealt to the Dodgers last month, along with injured outfielder Carl Crawford, while veteran Kevin Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox earlier.
Slugger David Ortiz and rookie Will Middlebrooks are two of the five Red Sox currently on the disabled list, a list that also includes long-term absentee John Lackey.