FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Bobby Valentine was hired to manage the Red Sox last winter, there was the understanding that his style would be in stark contrast to his predecessor, Terry Francona.
While Francona would go to great lengths to avoid criticizing a player pubicly, Valentine is known for his candid assessments that can sometimes alienate players.
The regular season hasn't yet begun, and already, Valentine has raised some eyebrows with some of his comments.
Early in camp, when a reporter asked why Ryan Sweeney -- a good athlete with a large frame -- hadn't hit for much power in the big leagues (career slugging percentage: .378), Valentine didn't hesitate to say that it was because of "horrible'' mechanics.
Sweeney has spent four full years in the big leagues and is an accomplished outfielder. While managers usually don't hesitate to critique a prospect's game, it's rare indeed to be so blunt about an established big leaguer's shortcomings.
On Monday, Valentine was asked about reliever Mark Melancon's outing against the Twins in which Melancon was charged with three runs in an inning of work.
"I thought he backed up the bases pretty well,'' said Valentine. "He had that down.''
Uno's Sports Tonight Question of the Day:Will Valentine's direct approach wear thin?
He also questioned why Melancon would throw a fastball up in the zone while ahead in the count, implying that such a choice showed a lack of baseball sense.
To date, players have not reacted to some of Valentine's criticisms. But they have not gone unnoticed and some are wondering how such a style will play out over the course of the regular season.
In a market such as Boston, with six media outlets traveling during the regular season and two all-sports radio stations on the lookout for topics to discuss, such candor could prove problematic.