Contacting players first on Valentine's agenda
New Red Sox manager plans to make face-to-face visits
BOSTON -- Though Bobby Valentine won't start wearing his Red Sox uniform until mid-February, the process of forging relationships with his players will begin immediately.
One interesting dynamic is this: In his former role as an analyst for ESPN, Valentine's candid nature led him to criticize some Red Sox players for some of their on-field nuances.
For example, Valentine didn't care much for Carl Crawford's open stance. He also felt Josh Beckett was taking too long between pitches.
Will he have to mend some fences going forward?
"Part of that job as analyst is to be critical," Valentine said. "I believe if some people heard what I had to say and took exception with it, I get that. And I'm looking forward to the time when it's not a conversation they're going to hear from me making a comment on television. That conversation is going to be one on one.
Bobby V hits Beantown
"And I'm looking forward to talking to the players, being with the players. Communicating what I think should be done or could be done, and I'm sure they're looking forward to communicating with me to tell me that it's OK to have an open stance or to take 20 seconds in between pitches."
Valentine won't simply touch base with players by phone. He plans on flying out to various locations to go see them.
"I'm planning on a lot, and with Ben's help, I'm trying to orchestrate all of the above," Valentine said of general manager Ben Cherington. "We're going to reach out on the phone. I'm going to be on a plane. I'm hoping that a lot of conversations can be done before Spring Training and then have them continue during Spring Training and during the season.
"There's not going to be a phone call where there's going to be anything that's necessarily resolved; I don't have a 10 commandments of baseball that I'm going to recite to the guys. I'm not going to ask them to dinner every Thursday, but I think that there's going to be a continuing conversation so I can get to know these guys individually so that I can hopefully put them together collectively to be the championship team that this town deserves."
Valentine is looking forward to learning the ins and outs of what makes his new players tick.
"I don't think there's one thing I'm going to do the same or differently," Valentine said. "I'm looking forward to this as a challenge of getting to know Dustin Pedroia, to figuring out who and what he is, getting to know Adrian Gonzalez, getting to know everybody -- Carl Crawford, every person on this team, so I can feel like I'm part of their team.
"They're not part of my team. I'm going to be part of Ben's group that work with him and for him. I'm going to be part of Dustin's group, the Boston Red Sox players' group to work with them and for them, and that's the challenge. This isn't easy stuff. With all due respect to New York, I can't imagine that there's any tougher place to be good at what I'm going to try to do."
And even as he moved into his new job, Valentine thought it was only appropriate to give a proverbial tip of the cap to the man he is replacing -- Terry Francona.
"Tito did a remarkable job, a fabulous job from viewing him outside and watching what happened over his tenure," Valentine said. "You could do nothing but tip your hat and hope that you could replicate some of the wonderful things that he was able to accomplish."