"I mean, you build relationships with guys, you've been through a lot with them," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "That part's difficult. I don't really know what's -- I don't know who's in it or what. I don't really know. I heard about it an hour before the game [a 4-3 win over the Royals] then played the game, so I don't really know what to think."
Most if not all Sox players knew something of the potential trade -- which could see Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto all leave for Los Angeles -- about an hour before Boston's series-opening win over Kansas City. Reports were already out.
Then came the lineup change, when Gonzalez was pulled from the order just minutes before a 7:10 p.m. ET start at Fenway Park. Right then, the trade became palpable.
"That was one of the signs that I knew there was something going down, when you're taken out of the lineup," said designated hitter David Ortiz, who returned from the disabled list and collected a pair of hits in the victory.
"Yeah, we talked a little bit," Ortiz said later. "He's shocked like we are a little bit. Adrian wants to be here, that's why he came here -- to help this ballclub win a World Series. To sign long-term like he did and to be out the second year, it's kind of surprises you. But like I said, we don't know yet what's going to be better for our ballclub."
For everyone else, too, the lineup change was a clear signal. No one was left thinking Gonzalez had just pulled a hammy.
"Normally, the first thing you think of is trade," shortstop Mike Aviles said. "I don't know if it's official, a rumor, how close it is. All I know is [Gonzalez] didn't play today and [the trade] is a possibility. It's hard to lose a player like him, but that's just the way it is sometimes."
No blockbuster was officially finished Friday night, so after the win the players put forth hypotheticals and hedging thoughts to offer. Still, none were ignoring the matter. Most were resolved to the reality that trades are out of their control -- Beckett's 10-5 veto rights aside -- even with the unprecedented level of money and big-name talent involved.
"I can't really comment on it, you know what I mean?" said Jon Lester, Friday's starting pitcher and a close friend of Beckett's. "Until it's actually done, you can't really predict the future and know how you're going to feel about it until it's actually done. If it does get done, we'll move forward. If it doesn't, we'll move forward from there. We'll wait and see where this thing goes."
Said Pedroia: "You just got to go compete. I mean you don't, there's things that you don't control. We're just going to go out and play as hard as we can, try to win the ballgame. That's basically it."
Multiple players said the deal did not affect them on the field. Gonzalez asked manager Bobby Valentine what was going on, and the skipper, apparently, had the same lot as everyone else: uncertainty.
"Well, he had already heard about it," Valentine said of Gonzalez. "He was kind of telling me. He wasn't surprised and I said, 'Did this happen?' and he said, 'No, but it might.' So I guess he knows what I know."