The poor play on the field dovetailed with chaos in the clubhouse. On Sept. 2 the Red Sox demoted the pitching coach who had succeeded Kerrigan, John Cumberland, to the minors, a move that led to Cumberland's quitting and to star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra's highly publicized comment: "No wonder players don't want to play here. This place is a f———joke." That episode was followed by a public squabble between Duquette and Pedro Martinez over the condition of Martinez's right shoulder. Duquette asserted that Martinez, who'd spent from July 27 to Aug. 26 on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, was healthy enough to pitch the rest of the season. Martinez responded by saying that he had a slight tear in his rotator cuff and that he thought it best not to pitch again this year. Martinez clearly was hurting during his start against the Yankees last Friday—he lasted only three innings—and on Sunday, Kerrigan pulled the plug, scratching Martinez from his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Devil Rays and saying that the pitcher was finished for the year unless the Red Sox made it back into playoff contention. It was a decision that should have been made long ago.
As chaotic as things were, they could become even more unsettled during the off-season. The Red Sox are for sale. Last month six potential ownership groups submitted nonbinding bids for the team, the first step in a process that isn't likely to be completed before the end of the calendar year. Boston spokesman Kevin Shea says the management of the team will remain "status quo" until the sale goes through, but Duquette will most likely enter the busy hot-stove season not knowing who his bosses will be next year—or if he'll have a job. Given the Red Sox' flop despite having the majors' second-highest payroll, the public relations whipping Duquette has received for the Williams firing and his frosty relationship with the players, it seems likely that the new owner will bring in a new general manager.
If Duquette is perceived as a lame duck, luring free agents to rebuild a roster in need of an overhaul this winter will be exceedingly difficult. Further, if the sale of the Red Sox drags on, Duquette may be left in place next season to run a team full of stars that he has already alienated. For Boston fans, the perennial cry of "wait till next year" may already have an ominous ring.
Sept. 17-19, Padres at Dodgers Los Angeles should welcome this series amid a season-ending 16-game stretch in which it will face the Diamondbacks and the Giants, the two teams ahead of LA in the National League West and wild-card races as of Sunday, 13 times. The Padres, who have been no-hit twice this year, owned the league's fourth-lowest team batting average, .252, through Sunday. The Dodgers, meanwhile, had surrendered the fourth-fewest hits and had held opponents to the fourth-lowest batting average (.253). Plus, in the first 13 games between the teams this season, no San Diego hitter had batted higher than .294.