Valentine: Ortiz 'decided not to play'

Valentine: Ortiz 'decided not to play'
October 24, 2012, 3:45 am
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Bobby Valentine was a guest on NBC Sports Network's "Costas Tonight" on Tuesday, and talked in-depth about some moments in the 2012 Sox season.

So, when Valentine got the inevitable news of his firing, how did he take it?

"I was relieved that I was not disappointed, if that makes any sense," Valentine said. "It was a trying season, and by September I knew there was writing on the wall. We just had to have a meeting and make it official."

But there was a point in the season when Valentine thought the team was going to start taking a turn for the better but that came to an abrupt halt.

"At one time we were about 53-50 and I thought we were ready to make a move and then David got his achilles and Will Middlebrooks, who is a wonderful young player by the way, broke his hand," Valentine said.

But despite the many injuries, Valentine isn't here to make excuses for the season that spiraled out of control.

"I think it was all my fault because I got paid to have that not happen, and it happened. So I'll take the full blame . . . or credit."

Valentine said that he didn't take the only advice that former "dean" Tom Landry gave him way back in his 30s.

According to Valentine, Landry said, "If anything, make sure your coaches speak your language."

"I should have heeded that advice and made sure that the coaches were my guys," Valentine admitted.

But there were reports that Valentine was "on an island" as Costas put it, not with the players much in-between games and in the locker room. The relationships weren't established enough.

"There could have been," Valentine admitted. "It wasn't like I was there alone. There was always someone from there from Ben's office, one of the assistant's is always in the manager's office, before and after games that's kind of what was going there. I felt that in today's world, and it seems today that it's true, that that world is the player's world. The clubhouse is theirs. It's not for the coaches or the managers. I just felt that was the way it was supposed to be."

Perhaps the culture hadn't changed fast enough, as Valentine said. Or perhaps, the players were still upset at some things that happened early on in the year.

There was the Kevin Youkilis debacle of Valentine saying he didn't appear really into the game. Then there was the Middlebrooks "Nice inning, Kid" moment of which Valentine denies happening based on the fact neither he or Middlebrooks can remember it.

But none made Valentine more bewildered than what occurred in spring training and boy, was it a sign of things to come for the reminder of the season. A simple pop up to left field, one in which the outfielder came in and shortstop Mike Aviles in this case came out. The ball belongs to the outfielder if he calls for it, and Valentine wasn't leaving that up for debate.

"I just said, 'Guys, on this matter this is not a democracy. We're doing it the way you do it in baseball.'"

What happened next to this day baffles Valentine. Valentine described players coming in later that day, saying, "Please don't yell at Mike like that, he's a really good player but I don't think he can handle being you yelling his name in front of other people.' I'm still incredulous."

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But issues with players weren't the only thing. Valentine was surprised at all the managerial voices that went in to decisions that he felt he should be able to make alone.

"I think that's unique to that group of guys," Valentine said. "I don't think it's indigenous to all of baseball, at least I pray it's not because it's not functional with the tail wagging the dog and taking a vote every time you have to decide how you're going to do things. A leader needs to lead. He leads by forming the pack and padding down the pack and other people follow. You can't have the guy in the back of the line coming up deciding which direction you're going to go in."

At some point, Cherington decided to go in the direction of blowing up the team. Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford headed to Los Angeles, ridding the Sox of the contracts they were previously tied to. But it was another player, David Ortiz, that "decided" to end his Sox season that day too.

"David came back that day," Valentine recalled. "David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list. We thought it was only going to be a week. And he got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs, we were off to the races, and then he realized that this trade meant that we weren't going to run this race, we're not even going to finish the race properly. He decided not to play anymore, and I think at that time it was all downhill from there.

MORE: Sports Tonight discusses Valentine's 'revisionist's history'

Time will tell how new manager John Farrell will fare. But Valentine hopes he'll call him for advice, not that he thinks Farrell needs it.

As far as his relationship with his players, he says most guys wished him well some making him tear up.

"We struggled, but we struggled together," Valentine said.