Bobby Valentine’s one season as manager of the Red Sox came with plenty of drama and openly expressed frustration, ending with the team’s worst record in nearly a half-century. It’s not surprising, then, that David Ortiz doesn’t have any fond memories of Valentine to share in his new book, Papi: My Story.
As excerpted by Sports Illustrated this week, Ortiz’s book describes Valentine as unreasonable and impossible to communicate with:
The drama began almost immediately in spring training. I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year.
It was all about him in the spring. It was as if he wanted to prove how smart he was by running us through all these drills he’d used while managing in Japan, drills we had never done before. Bobby was in his own bubble, and I just wanted to get him out of it and tell him, “Fuck you.”
One day we were doing his drills and the shit hit the fan. We were hitting pop-ups, and Bobby had said that he didn’t want infielders to say, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it. . . .” He thought that was an unreliable way of calling off a teammate because, in a noisy stadium, the player who’s being called off might not hear his teammate taking control. Well, all players have habits. And in American baseball, most infielders taking the play say, “I got it.”
So when our shortstop, Mike Aviles, got under a ball, he instinctively said, “I got it.” Bobby snapped. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in the majors. He went off on Aviles, cussing and verbally tearing him down in front of everyone. If it had been me, I would have gone up to him, right in front of the fans and dropped a punch.
Ortiz writes that when he and fellow veterans Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez tried to discuss the incident with Valentine, the manager had zero interest in engaging: “[I]t was like communicating with a wall. All he did was roll his eyes and look everywhere but at us. It could not have been more obvious that he didn’t care what we had to say.”
That was just spring training, and the team’s year only got worse from there. Ortiz goes on to describe Valentine as “generally clueless and distant,” “aggravating as hell, arrogant and disrespectful,” and someone who “kept getting in the way” and “didn’t treat people well.”
Valentine, for his part, responded in an interview with the Tiki and Tierney Show on CBS Sports Radio today: “I don’t know how it could have been about me in spring training, but I’ve heard a lot of those general comments. But whatever. I hope he sells a lot of books. I hope I help him sell some.”
Just looking out for his players, like always.