By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ The Boston Red Sox said they were looking for a
different voice in the clubhouse when they let Terry Francona walk
after the worst September collapse in major league history.
Enter Bobby Valentine.
Known for his confrontational style that rubbed some of his
players the wrong way and for feuding with his bosses with the New
York Mets, his last big league managing gig, Valentine formally
interviewed for the Boston job on Monday when he met with general
manager Ben Cherington and other members of the Red Sox brain
“They have one of the best teams in baseball, one of the best
organizations in baseball, one of the greatest venues in baseball,
with a winning tradition over the last 10 years,” he said. “Other
than that there’s really no reason why I want to be here.”
The Red Sox had originally interviewed Gene Lamont, Torey
Lovullo, Dale Sveum, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Pete Mackanin. Sveum has
been hired to manage the Chicago Cubs by former Red Sox GM Theo
Epstein; Mackanin had been told he was no longer in the running,
and Alomar got the same news on Monday.
Working against Alomar wasn’t a lack of managerial experience as
much as the fact that none of his coaching experience had been in a
dugout. He had worked as a bullpen catcher with the Mets and first
base coach with the Cleveland Indians.
“We just felt like that is an important step for him,”
Cherington said. “I told him how highly I think of him and I think
he’s going to be a really good big league manager one day, but he
wasn’t going to be the choice for us in 2012.”
Although Cherington had maintained that he did not expect to
expand the field, he met with Valentine in Hartford earlier this
month, just before the former Mets and Rangers skipper appeared on
a panel with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. Valentine has also
met with Red Sox ownership, Cherington said; Lamont is scheduled to
meet with the owners this week.
“This was always going to be a choice that I’m going to make
with ownership,” said Cherington, who was promoted when Epstein
left for the Cubs. “We’ve known since the start of this that this
was too important a decision to rush.”
The Red Sox led the AL East for much of the summer, but they
went 7-20 in September to blow a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card
race and finish one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays. Out went
Francona, who was known as a players’ manager, a move that was
followed by reports that pitchers were drinking beer and eating
fried chicken in the clubhouse during games instead of cheering
their teammates on from the bench.
Asked for his philosophy of discipline, Valentine said he
learned from his time in Japan that players appreciate having rules
that are enforced because it helps them stay in line.
“Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days,”
Valentine said. “But I think everyone likes discipline. I think
everyone likes structure. Everyone likes to be acknowledged when
they do things properly. Discipline and rules and things like that
_ it’s just about right and wrong.”
The 61-year-old Valentine is the most experienced candidate to
interview so far.
He managed the Texas Rangers (1985-92) and New York Mets
(1996-02), finishing up his two major league stints 45 games above
.500, and also managed in Japan from 2004-09, winning the Japan
Series in ’05 with the Chiba Lotte Marines.
But some of that was experience he would prefer to forget.
With the Mets, he was embroiled in a public personality clash
with general manager Steve Phillips that played out almost daily
with dueling pregame press gaggles. He was fired after finishing
fifth in 2002 _ the first time he failed to top .500 in six full
seasons in New York, and just two years after making his only
appearance in the World Series.
“I hope I’ll change for the better, because I never won a world
championship,” he said. “I’ve had bad experiences that I hope
I’ve learned from, and I’ve had good experiences that I hope I
Cherington said Valentine, who has been working as an analyst
for ESPN, needed to show that he had changed.
“He’s had really good experiences. He’s been to the top,”
Cherington said. “And he’s had other experiences that haven’t gone
as well. But no one who’s managed in the big leagues … has had
all good experiences. That’s how the game works.
“Tito (Francona) hadn’t had all good experiences before he got
to Boston. He worked out really well,” Cherington said.
Valentine said he talked to two of his mentors, New Jersey
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and longtime Los Angeles
Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
“They’d disown me if I didn’t give this my best shot,”
And, if he gets the job: “I would feel like it is Christmas.”
“It’s really kind of cool that I’m sitting here,” he said.
Valentine has worked as public safety director for the city of Stamford.