Well, it certainly wasn't dull. The Boston Red Sox's first week of spring training featured at least 27 uses of "it's a dead issue as far as I'm concerned," 16 of "consider the source," 11 of "I haven't read it, and I'm not going to read it," one groping reference to Walt Whitman and uncounted sighs of relief from players that the long-dreaded Margo Adams tell-all had finally appeared in Penthouse and, thank god, included fewer bombshells than expected. On top of that, there was a 270-minute walkout by leftfielder Mike Greenwell, one mute $7.5 million Rocket Man and a calmly laconic New Englander named Joe Morgan, who became the first manager in history to field a question about phone sex.
Oh. And Wade Boggs was on hand too. Boggs, the five-time American League batting champion, with a lifetime average of .356, reported to camp three days early, signed autographs, joked with teammates, tore the cover off the ball in batting practice and generally carried himself like a man who didn't have a worry in the world. At one point he even jogged past photographers while singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. "Team turmoil?" Boggs said. "Where do you get that? I don't see any black eyes or bloody noses around here. Do you?"
Only on the face of baseball. Truth is, the Red Sox, who have been bracing themselves for the Penthouse article since the middle of last summer, circled the wagons effectively once advance copies of the first installment of the two-part story began to circulate in Winter Haven on Feb. 22. Written by David Shumacher and based on interviews with Adams, who was Boggs's mistress for four years during road trips and who has brought a breach of contract suit against him, the article barely ruffled the feathers of the defending American League East champions, who reacted, if not exactly with sweetness and light, certainly with restraint when the press descended on them. "It's a joke—Laurel and Hardy stuff," said pitcher Bob Stanley, who Adams said was photographed by Boggs and former Sox pitcher Steve Crawford in an embarrassing situation with a stripper.
"I'm not going to react to it," said designated hitter Jim Rice, whose name also appeared. "I haven't read anything, and I'm not going to read that——." Boggs, according to the article, once told Adams that Rice "thinks he's white."
Pitcher Dennis (Oil Can) Boyd had the strongest comment. Alluding to his 1986 suspension for walking out after being left off the All-Star team, Boyd said, "They were talking about banning me out of baseball because I've got a temper. I got to go to a psychiatrist because I got mad. Here's a guy says he's a sex fiend. Now who needs the psychiatrist?"
The article, which purported to "reveal a world of infidelity, partying, kindergarten antics and racial stereotypes," contained little that had not already been leaked to the press, except some of the particularly sordid details of Boggs's infidelity. "What I've read is pretty much what the scuttlebutt was," said Morgan. "It certainly isn't a positive thing, but it isn't all that big a negative. If it gets to be a problem on the field, then it's my problem." Asked if he was engaged in damage control, Morgan responded, "Damage control? That's pretty much what this is, I guess. Who said that, Walt Whitman?"
Whoever said it, Red Sox officials have been putting out one fire after another ever since their team was swept by Oakland in last year's American League Championship Series. The cumulative effect is that Boston's chances of repeating as division champ have been reduced, despite the fact that the American League East looks especially weak this year. In December, star righthander Roger (Rocket Man) Clemens launched this winter of discontent by alienating some Sox fans during an interview with Mike Lynch of Boston TV station WCVB. Clemens made derogatory remarks that sounded as if they were directed at the Boston area as a whole. At the end of January, Clemens attempted to set the record straight—this time in an interview with Mike Dowling of WCVB—but only succeeded in getting himself into deeper hot water when he threatened that "somebody's going to get hurt, and it's not going to be me" if any reporters wrote or said anything bad about his wife or family.
No one knew what on earth he was referring to—there had not been any derogatory reporting on members of the Clemens family—but cartoons of Clemens strangling reporters began appearing in the papers. General manager Lou Gorman, sensing that the tide of public opinion was turning inexorably against his loose-lipped ace, said, "I think maybe Roger should stop doing interviews for a while." Clemens, who signed a three-year contract worth $7.5 million on Feb. 15, did just that. After arriving for spring training a day late, he declared his intention to communicate with reporters only on the days that he pitches and then only through releases issued by the Red Sox public relations department.
One thing that may have contributed to Clemens's dismay was the fact that the Red Sox had allowed lefthander Bruce Hurst to sign as a free agent with the San Diego Padres in December. Hurst's departure leaves a void in the rotation wider than any schism Adams has forged in the clubhouse. After Clemens, the Red Sox rotation comprises four other righties, Mike Boddicker (13-15, with a 3.42 ERA in 1988), Wes Gardner (8-6, 3.50), the newly acquired John Dopson (3-11, 3.04 with the Montreal Expos) and the talented but erratic Boyd (9-7, 5.34), who's even more of a question mark than usual this year because his '88 season was ended on Aug. 31 by the recurrence of a blood clot in his right shoulder. Small wonder that Gorman was saying last Friday, "We've got to figure out how to get [the Seattle Mariners' lefthander Mark] Langston. That would win the pennant for us."
If the Sox are to win the title, they almost certainly have to put the Adams affair behind them. There's still another installment of the Penthouse article to come, plus the possibility of new disclosures if, as now seems unlikely, some of the Sox players give depositions in Adams's case. But Adams's suit was weakened considerably last weekend when Boggs's lawyer, Jennifer King, received word from an Orange County (Calif.) appellate court that all Adams's claims for punitive damages—she was reportedly hoping for millions in such payments—had been tossed out, leaving only two causes of action: compensation for lost wages and for out-of-pocket expenses she incurred while traveling with Boggs. King estimates that the most Adams could hope to win is somewhere between $18,000 and $48,000.