NEW YORK -- When manager Bobby Valentine was named manager of the Red Sox last December, he never envisioned his team would be a game below .500 entering the 100th game of the season.
But despite the struggles and all the injuries, Valentine has an upbeat outlook on the team as it heads down the stretch.
"Well, there's been a lot of stuff going on," Valentine said. "Very challenging, very exciting. This is a great group of guys and I'm glad I'm having the opportunity and I think we're headed in the right direction. We got off to a lousy start there with confusion in our bullpen. We've been about five games over since a bad start in April and I think we can build on that to go to 10, 15 and 20 games over, I think."
What makes Valentine so confident, given that every short spurt of success by the team has been followed by a similar run of misfortune?
"Well, I've seen Adrian [Gonzalez] and Dustin [Pedroia] really hitting their stride," said Valentine. "We went 80 games without them really hitting their stride. They're feeling good. I see David coming back. I see [Jacoby] Ellsbury and Carl [Crawford] in the lineup and I see our bullpen pretty well stabilized and our starting staff feeling pretty good about themselves."
How can Valentine feel good about the starting staff, considering the team is 13-24 in games pitched by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester?
"They're healthy and throwing the ball well," said Valentine. "I believe we have quality people and they're healthy and maybe the balls aren't hit at people or whatever the heck it is that combine to have them not get W's and not do as well as we wanted them to do, and I think that they will because they're healthy and they have quality. That's a lot. This is a team that's come along pretty well. I don't see things going backward."