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In an interview with WEEI on Friday, former Boston Red Sox strength and conditioning coach Dave Page revealed his perspective on this past season.
Fired on Tuesday, Page shared his observations on the players’ late-season training regimen, the lack of support from the front office, the consumption of beer and fried chicken, and his feeling that he was made a scapegoat for the players’ lack of commitment to staying in shape.
As Page told WEEI, “The bottom line is we weren’t ready to play physically, fundamentally or mentally the way we should have been, like a championship team should have been.”
While Page made sure to say that most players stayed committed to their training programs, he did acknowledge that a handful of players strayed from the conditioning course – a position player, a starter, and two members of the bullpen – though he refused to refer to any players by name.
“We got to the end of the year and we had four guys that we thought didn’t make it to that part of the season where we hoped they would be,” said Page in the interview. “There were some guys who peeled it back more than I thought, more than I would have liked them to.”
Page told how he confronted one player who he felt had stopped giving his best (or really any) effort in the weight room.
“I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on here, bro? It seems like you’ve pulled the plug a little bit, and why?’ He kind of looked down at the ground, looked back at me and said: ‘I don’t know why. I can’t answer that question.’ Which was kind of a shock.”
While Page did not identify this player, he did say it was not Josh Beckett. Page did discuss the starting pitcher’s season, though, saying Beckett changed his usual workout routine after a string of lights-out pitching performances at the beginning of the season coincided with scaling back his training between starts. Citing Beckett’s superstition, Page explained how Beckett reduced his workouts because it was working for him, but that ultimately it caused Beckett’s weight to become an issue.
“For the short term, it probably worked. For the long term, it probably wasn’t the best plan.”
Page discussed how he made his observations on the players’ lack of conditioning to then-manager Terry Francona and higher-ups in the front office, providing weekly reports on each player’s workouts.
Sometimes coaches or executives would come to him with concerns, but for the most part, Page said he brought his worries to them. When he felt he was unable to get through to players who should work harder, Page turned to more authoritative figures for backing, but didn’t receive the support he needed.
“It was me going to them saying, ‘Hey, I’m having trouble reaching this guy,’” Page said. “‘Can you give me some backup here? Let’s try to use my words and your voice and see what happens.’ …It’s been a lot better in the past.”
With regards to the consumption of Popeye’s and PBR (though the 2011 Red Sox were probably more Bud Light drinkers; that would be the 2004 Idiots who were hipster enough for PBR), Page observed that the story was overblown. He denied that the food and drink negatively affected the team’s play, although it was surprising that Page admitted it was commonplace for a starter to drink a beer upon being lifted (the ultimate protein shake, apparently).
Having held the position of strength and conditioning coach since 2006, Page felt he took the fall for the players’ lack of responsibility.
Page said that almost the entire Red Sox roster contacted him offering words of support – too little, too late, it seems. He even revealed that one player sent him a text saying, “I feel this is all my fault.”
Clearly, Page was not the one responsible for the poor conditioning and the poor play, but unlike the position of Red Sox ace, the position of strength and conditioning coach is thankless, anonymous, and expendable.
Unfortunately for Page, his only chance to step into the Boston spotlight and make himself heard, turned out to be his last.