Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, in an interview on Sirius XM's Mad Dog Radio, discussed the shape of the Sox coming out of the All-Star break. In the broad-ranging interview, he said that he was pleased with the individual performances of players on his team, believed that the Red Sox rotation as currently constructed was good enough to lead the team to the playoffs and said that, after a "magical mystery tour" in search of his swing in the first half, Adrian Gonzalez appeared ready to do some damage in the second half.
He also suggested that he was unsurprised by Kevin Youkilis' strong performance with the White Sox and suggested that the eventual returns of relievers Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard (neither of which he suggested was going to take place soon) would create some interesting challenges regarding bullpen roles.
On the team's 43-43 record: "I think it is what it is. I don't want to rate it. ... I'm really happy with the development of some of the players that I didn't really know were going to be part of the development scheme. I'd have to say that, individually, I couldn't expect very much more out of the guys who went out there and played this year."
On whether the rotation, which has a 4.81 ERA that is 12th in the American League, is good enough to get to the playoffs: "I think we have the ability to get us there. Again, we've had first-inning woes and we've had a little problem of getting deep into the game with our starting pitching. Coming out of spring training, we had the big three of [Jon] Lester, [Josh] Beckett and [Clay] Buchholz. I think these guys are going to start rising to the occasion. I think they're going to start putting some strings of games together, which we really didn't have much of in the first half. We've had, I think, two times through the rotation where we were feeling real good about the rotation, and most of the other time we were kind of hiccuping. I'd like to see what happens once these guys start pitching in the second half."
On Jon Lester's reported unhappiness in Boston: "I think that the only thing that Jon Lester is not happy about is that his BABIP is higher than it's ever been in his career and the ball keeps finding holes when they're hit off the end of the bat or off the handle. He's pitched in as tough a luck as I've ever seen anyone pitch in for the first half of the season. It seems like Jon, it seems to me, that Jon comes to the ballpark everyday with a smile on his face, gives his best and enjoys it here."
On Adrian Gonzalez's ability to help carry the Red Sox: "I know he has the ability. I think he has the second half in him that's going to get his numbers to where they're supposed to be, which will make him a broad-shouldered player here in the second half. ... Adrian went beyond the call of duty, played a lot of games in right field because of injuries we had, to get guys into the lineup. He never complained. I think once he really finds his swing -- and it's really been a little of a magical mystery tour in the first half of getting his timing where he would like it -- I think once he gets it, American League pitchers are going to be in trouble."
On Kevin Youkilis in Chicago: "I never saw Kevin play as often as he's playing in Chicago. Dave Magadan, who had been around him for a while, said if this guy goes somewhere else, he's not doing it here, but he'll do it somewhere else because he plays with this chip on his shoulder. I can't say that I'm really surprised."
Which player returning from the DL will make the biggest impact on the team? "Good question. I don't think that there's one gaping hole. I don't think there's one person who can really be the difference maker. But Jacoby Ellsbury last year was as good a player as there was in all of baseball. To not have him for  games or so was a big void."
On the impact of the roster turnover, with a number of players potentially returning from the disabled list to the big leagues: "If Andrew Bailey comes back -- I don't think he'll be coming back sooner; it will be later -- but when he comes back and if, I believe Daniel Bard will come back, then it's how they fit into the lineup of the bullpen. ... Many things done in spring training as far as the group is concerned will be done on the fly."
Comparing Boston and New York: "It's a big microscope. The lights are very bright here. Everything is magnified. I think there is a similarity in that the guys get a little edgy for less reason than in other places. There's a defense mechanism that a lot of the guys have, a protective wall that they try to put up, to keep them protected from the outside world that I saw a lot of guys in New York have. ... It has its own way of stirring things up, blowing things out of proportion or at times telling it like it is."
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