OAKLAND, CA: Alfredo Aceves #61 of the Boston Red Sox talks with Jarrod Saltalamacchia #39 against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
What a weird year it's been for Alfredo Aceves. After last year's September, when the rest of the team collapsed and he stood tall above many of the other pitchers, eager to do his part and help Boston win, Aceves has come off far less calm and collected in 2012. It didn't start recently, but has been more of a point of contention as of late.
First, there was the battle for the rotation back in the spring. Aceves threw 19 innings in six games in the spring, posting a 5.21 ERA and three homers allowed, but with 17 strikeouts against three walks. A mix of good and bad, nothing substantial in one direction or the other given the sample and the fact it was spring. Aceves was angered by losing out on a rotation spot to Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront, though, but was then put in the closer role with Andrew Bailey expected to be out for months.
It was understandable he would be unhappy, but a little odd to actually know this from seeing it, rather than just intuiting it. Isolated incident, though.
Then came the struggles as closer. Aceves would claim he was doing his job -- hey, he was throwing hard! -- and when Bobby Valentine removed him in favor of the now-healthy Andrew Bailey, Aceves lost it. He argued with Valentine in his office, demanded a meeting with general manager Ben Cherington at a time when Cherington was working out the Adrian Gonzalez and Co. trade with the Dodgers, and was subsequently suspended three games for the embarrassment.
When Aceves returned, he and Dustin Pedroia argued in the dugout, to the point where third base coach Jerry Royster had to get in the middle of them. Valentine went to Aceves to help calm him down, but Aceves batted him away, either a sign of how heated Aceves was and can get, or a sign of his disrespect for Valentine. Or hey, maybe both.
Then there was Wednesday against the Yankees, where Aceves, relieved by Valentine, handed the ball to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and headed to the third base side, then made a point of walking around the entire mound in order to avoid passing by his manager.
Valentine had something to say about it, sort of:
"Who cares if he showed me up?" Valentine said. "If I have to explain Aceves' actions, I'll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard."
More than Aceves had to say anyway, since he said, "What am I going to do?"
It's just all a little weird. I'm not sure how Boston should react to Aceves' random lashing out, but he's probably not helping his case by being a disruption during a season in which he has eight blown saves and nine losses along with a 4.63 ERA in relief.