Valentine figured Jacoby Ellsbury would be in center and that either Andrew Bailey or Mark Melancon would be closing out games, so he didn't make contingency plans. Now, Valentine has scenarios mapped out ahead of time as best he can.
"You try to have what-ifs," Valentine said Monday prior to the opening of a six-game homestand. "To tell you the truth, I didn't have a what-if at the beginning of the season that I'm kicking myself for."
Ellsbury, last year's American League Most Valuable Player Award runner-up, played just seven games before a partially dislocated right shoulder shelved him. Bailey's right thumb on his throwing hand was hurt just before Spring Training ended, while Melancon struggled mightily in his four outings. Boston traded for Marlon Byrd to play center in Ellsbury's stead, and the bullpen could evolve again very soon depending on what happens with Aaron Cook's opt-out clause at Triple-A Pawtucket.
"The outfield and the bullpen," Valentine said. "I didn't have a major plan for not having Ellsbury. My fault. I should have, and I didn't. Two-deep in the bullpen, the two guys we traded for in the winter time, I figured one of them would be pitching the ninth inning come April 13."
The Red Sox have seemed to turn a corner since they last played at Fenway Park. After seeing a nine-run lead vanish in a 15-9 loss to the Yankees on April 21, Boston went 6-1 on a road trip to push its record to 10-11.
"I think you have to have plans," Valentine said. "I'm kicking myself a little that I didn't have a great plan, but it's coming to fruition now. On the fly, the plan seems to be working."