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Sources: Valentine Next Red Sox Manager

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(credit: Elsa/Elsa/Getty Images Sport

(credit: Elsa/Elsa/Getty Images Sport

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By BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer

The Boston Red Sox have picked Bobby Valentine to be their next
manager and the sides were working to complete a contract, a person
familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday
night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no
announcement had been made. Several media outlets in Boston, citing
anonymous sources, reported earlier in the evening that Valentine
would be the team’s new manager.

An announcement could come by Thursday.

“He’s got it. I just spoke to him a little while ago,” Hall of
Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed Valentine in the minors with the
Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a telephone interview with the AP.

The Red Sox had no comment, spokesperson Pam Ganley said.
Valentine would succeed Terry Francona, who left after eight
seasons following Boston’s record collapse in September.

Francona guided the Red Sox to a pair of World Series
championships, in 2004 and 2007.

Valentine was in Japan this week, where he managed from 2004-09,
and said he was about to take off on a flight when he sent the AP a
text message at 9:48 p.m. Tuesday saying he had no comment on “the
Red Sox situation.”

Valentine previously managed in the majors with the New York
Mets and Texas Rangers. He led the Mets to the 2000 World Series,
where they lost to the New York Yankees in five games. He had been
working as a baseball analyst for ESPN.

“I’m happy for him. I think the Red Sox got themselves a good
manager. In all my years, I’ve never seen a guy prepare a team for
a game like he does. That’s what makes him unique,” Lasorda said.

The Red Sox also interviewed Gene Lamont, Torey Lovullo, Dale
Sveum, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Pete Mackanin. Sveum was hired to
manage the Chicago Cubs by former Red Sox general manager Theo
Epstein. Mackanin and Alomar were told they were no longer in the
running.

The Red Sox have gone nearly two months without a manager, but
general manager Ben Cherington has noted that Francona wasn’t hired
until after Thanksgiving _ on Dec. 4, 2003.

Valentine’s last major league managerial job was with the Mets
in 2002.

Three years earlier, he was ejected for arguing a catcher’s
interference call in the 12th inning of a 14-inning game against
Toronto. Valentine then returned to the dugout wearing a fake
mustache and sunglasses. The Mets won 4-3, but Major League
Baseball suspended him for three games and fined him $5,000.

The energetic Valentine, 61, has a more confrontational style
than Francona, who was known as a player’s manager. And that may be
just what the Red Sox need after their late-season flop.

They led the AL East for much of the summer but went 7-20 in
September, squandering a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race
and finishing in third place in the division, one game behind Tampa
Bay.

Francona and the team parted ways two days after the end of the
regular season, with Francona saying the players needed a new voice
in the clubhouse. The Red Sox didn’t pick up his option for 2012.

Soon after, there were reports of starting pitchers drinking
beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in
which they weren’t scheduled to pitch instead of staying on the
bench to support their teammates.

Valentine interviewed on Nov. 21 with Cherington and other
members of Red Sox management.

Asked then about his philosophy of discipline, he said,
“Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days. 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.”

He also was enthusiastic about the job.

“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.”

And, he said then, if he got the job, “I would feel like it is
Christmas.”

Hiring a manager would now put Boston’s focus on signing free
agents. The team has already lost closer Jonathan Papelbon to the
Philadelphia Phillies but would like to retain designated hitter
David Ortiz. The Red Sox also can use one or two starters and
either a setup man or closer in the bullpen.

Valentine was a late addition to the original five-man field of
candidates as the Red Sox sought someone with experience as a big
league manager. Of the initial group, only Lamont had that.

Valentine managed the Rangers from 1985-92 and the Mets from
1996-2002. He was fired by the Mets after the 2002 season when they
finished fifth in the NL East. That was the only one of his six
full seasons with the Mets when they ended up below .500.

With the Mets, he clashed publicly with general manager Steve
Phillips.

In 2004, Valentine began a six-year managing career in Japan,
where he won the Japan Series in 2005 with the Chiba Lotte Marines.

On Nov. 3, he and Red Sox president and part owner Larry
Lucchino took part in Hartford in a program put on by the World
Affairs Council on the global rise in the popularity of baseball.

At the time, both said they hadn’t discussed the job with each
other.

“He’s a great man and a great manager and he has a colorful and
successful history, so his name inevitably comes up in this day and
age,” Lucchino said then.

When Cherington was named general manager on Oct. 25, he was
asked about the search for the next manager.

“We’re not looking for the next star manager,” he said.
“We’re looking for the right fit for the Red Sox in 2012.”

He may have gotten both.

A Connecticut native, Valentine won MVP awards in the Pioneer
League in 1968 and the Pacific Coast League in 1970, both times
with Lasorda as his manager.

“This guy would always rise to the occasion. He would always
drive in that big run for you,” Lasorda said. “He was sharp. When
he came to me in the rookie league, he showed me some real
knowledge about the game.”

Valentine played second, shortstop, third base and outfield and
made it to the majors with the Dodgers from 1971-73. He also was
with the California Angels (1973-75), San Diego Padres (1975-77),
the Mets (1977-78) and the Seattle Mariners (1979).

His career was derailed by a broken leg sustained when his
spikes caught the chain link fence at Anaheim Stadium in May 1973
as he tried to catch a home run hit by Dick Green. Valentine
finished with a .260 career batting average, 12 homers and 157
RBIs.

The son-in-law of former major league pitcher Ralph Branca,
Valentine has a 1,117-1,072 record as a major league manager, but
has never finished in first place in 15 seasons.

In April 2000, he criticized the Mets front office and several
players, specifically Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson, while
speaking to students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton
School of Business.

“He’s matured, and I think managing in Japan helped him a great
deal,” Lasorda said. “Becoming the manager of the Red Sox, that’s
a privilege and an honor, and I’m sure he’s going to do a great
job.”

___
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Howard Ulman contributed to
this report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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