Boston manager Bobby Valentine insisted he wasn't serious Wednesday when he threatened to punch a talk-show host in the mouth.
Hours later, his Red Sox put up little fight at the plate.
Valentine said he made it clear he was kidding when he made the comment during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley.
"Didn't I go, 'Ha, ha?'" the embattled Valentine asked before his fourth-place team lost 2-1 to the Seattle Mariners. "I don't think physical violence is necessary for 60-year-old people."
Ordway, sighting a newspaper report that Valentine arrived later than normal for a game last week in Oakland, asked if the manager had "checked out" on the season.
Valentine responded on the air:
"What an embarrassing thing to say. If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha," he said. "How's that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing. Why would somebody even, that's stuff that a comic strip person would write. If someone's here, watching me go out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, watching me put in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit-and-run when it was necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room — how could someone in real life say that?"
Meeting later with reporters in Seattle before the game, Valentine acknowledged he took offense to Ordway's question and explained that he arrived at the Coliseum in Oakland later than usual — but still 3 hours before the game — because he had picked up his son from the airport and got stuck in traffic.
"If anyone in this room or any other room I've been in in my life wants to question my integrity, I will ask someone to referee that situation," he said.
Valentine added that if a writer "thought that was important and wanted to write seriously about it, they could have asked what the situation was and I would have been happy to tell them. No one asked the reasons."
He went on to describe them.
Valentine said he picked up his son from the San Francisco airport in the morning for his first visit on the road during "this lousy season." The plane was late, then he had to return to his San Francisco hotel to pick up his game information before driving over the Bay Bridge to the Coliseum.
"That was a mistake," Valentine said. "There was traffic around the hotel and an accident on the freeway. I got there a little later than normal, not late. My workday starts at 4:30 p.m., in my opinion. I got to the stadium at 4:04 p.m."
He said he had called in that night's lineup at 2 p.m. and had checked with the trainer on the condition of injured players.
"To see my son for a couple more hours," he said, "is more than worth the trade-off of sitting around in my underwear in the clubhouse for two hours.
"Just ask me the question. Don't think everyone in the room is smart enough to figure out what I meant. That's not my fault."
Valentine said he told his coaches he would be a little late, and he called in to say he was delayed in traffic on his way to "the stupid Oakland Coliseum."
"For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any," he said.
During the radio interview, Valentine went on to say that his first season as Red Sox manager has been "miserable."
Asked to clarify later, he said: "The last two weeks have been very trying. Lots of obstacles in my way and I thought I've jumped them, and sometimes you get knocked down by them.
"It's turned out to be not what I expected. It's been a little misery, yeah," he said. "I'm not sure it's 24/7, but I would think after a loss I'm miserable. ... It's been adventurous, challenging."
Valentine signed a two-year deal last winter and has said he wants to return in 2013. Red Sox management has maintained that no decision will be made until after the season is over.
The last few weeks have not gone well. Boston went 1-8 on a brutal road trip for the club's worst West Coast swing since a 1-8 debacle in September 1989.
"This was not a good road trip, obviously," Valentine said. "One of the worst I've ever experienced."
The Red Sox are 10-24 since Aug. 1.
"I'd like us to play together and show that we've got a lot of pride," Valentine said. "I think we do and I think we'll grind it out, be a spoiler along the way. That would be fun, too."
Kevin Millwood (5-12) allowed four hits and one run over six innings for Seattle in his first victory since July 28. The right-hander had gone 1-8 since May 21.
Dustin Ackley hit a two-run single and Tom Wilhelmsen worked the ninth for his 24th save in 27 opportunities.
Aaron Cook (3-9) went six innings for the Red Sox, giving up two runs and seven hits. He is 1-8 since tossing a two-hit shutout against Seattle on June 29.
"It's time to go home," Cook said. "It was a bad, bad road trip for us. We have an off day tomorrow. Everybody needs to relax."
NOTES: Valentine said when Triple-A Pawtucket finishes its season, the Red Sox might call up "maybe one or two" more players. "I know (GM) Ben (Cherington) is looking around as to who we might add to the roster," the manager said. Valentine would like to have at least one more outfielder. ... OF Ryan Kalish intends to resolve his lingering shoulder issues during the offseason. "He's really concerned with something being done properly," Valentine said. "I don't think it's surgery." ... Dustin Pedroia was hitless in three at-bats, ending his season-high 15-game hitting streak.