BOSTON ?? The Red Sox shot down any notions of division in the clubhouse.
On the heels of an ESPN report that called Boston's clubhouse "toxic," pitcher Josh Beckett lashed out at the criticism surrounding the team and actually praised the environment.
"Completely fabricated," Beckett said of the report. "I don't know where people get that from. I think people want that to be the case and I just don't think it is. I think this is probably one of the tightest-knit groups I've ever been a part of, with dinners on the road, a couple family trips here this last time.
"We do a lot of stuff together. There's a good continuity here. I think there are certain people, they want it to be [toxic], and so they report it that way. It's just not like that at all."
Heading into Tuesday's series-opener against the Marlins, the Red Sox owned a 33-33 record, well short of expectations in June. Along the way, the team has been beset by a slew of injuries to outfielders Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.
But on occasion, there has been division between players and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. Back in April, Valentine criticized third baseman Kevin Youkilis' mental and physical commitment.
Those comments prompted Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to respond to Valentine as he said "that's really not the way we go about our stuff here." Since the exchange, the Red Sox manager has relented in his public criticism of players.
Despite the previous tension, Cody Ross laughed at the speculation that conflict had permeated through the clubhouse.
"We don't pay attention to it," the outfielder said. "You're talking about people saying these things that aren't even in our clubhouse. They're not in our clubhouse near as much as even you guys. You guys are in here more than the people that are saying that.
"Only us as players understand how it feels in here and you can probably go around one-through-25 and probably they'll all say the exact same thing. This is a great team. We have a lot of fun and it was actually comical."
Valentine, meanwhile, declined to offer any credence to the conjecture.
"I don't know how to define 'toxic,'" he said. "I'm not going to comment on peoples' articles. Why would I comment on someone who I don't think knows anything?"
Just like that, the Red Sox addressed reports of division by standing together.
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