Just more than an hour before the Red Sox series-opening game against the Yankees Tuesday, Sox manager Bobby Valentine held a team meeting to reiterate the importance of playing the right way for the final 21 games.
"Nobody really knew what was going on," said Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross. "We just got together. It was just really positive, and needed. … It was positive. We have 2 1/2 weeks left and the season hasn't been what we thought it would be, so we can go out and play hard, win ball games and stay positive."
The meeting wasn't the first called by Valentine this season, with the manager having addressed the team in a much more pointed get-together June 19 prior to sweeping the Marlins in a three-game home series.
The end result of this meeting was a 4-3, walk-off win for the Red Sox, with Jacoby Ellsbury being mobbed by his teammates after claiming a ninth-inning single, scoring Pedro Ciriaco with the game-winning run.
"It was just a good meeting to make a final push and finish the season as strong as we could," said Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava. "It was a good meeting. I think he got his point across. Hopefully we can have a walk-off every time and he can be the best motivational speaker of all-time."
Besides encouraging the Red Sox to play the game right for the final few weeks of the seasons, another emphasis from Valentine was to remember the importance of performing for the Red Sox fans.
"At this point in the year we've found ourselves in a hole we can't really dig out from, so it's all about playing the last games hard and playing good baseball," said Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles. "It's unfortunate we're not going anywhere this year, so it was just one of those meetings where he said, 'Play hard for the fans, they're out there, cheering us on every day.' That was pretty much the gist of it.
"It's one of those situations where our fans have been here every day so we owe it to the fans to play competitive baseball. It's been a struggle, and that's unfortunate with the amount of talent we have. But hopefully this one good game is one of many to finish the season on."
Valentine did vaguely reference the meeting when speaking to reporters after the game.
"I told the guys before the game that the fans are still pulling for us and they want to see us play well," he said. "The season's not over and we owe it to them, to the organization, to give it everything we had, and I think we did tonight."
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