Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is constantly in motion. On his to-do list today?
Im meeting with one of my guys whos going back to Haiti to make sure AmeriCares people
are going to take care of him and his family when he gets there, Valentine said Friday morning.
AmeriCares, which has provided medical relief and humanitarian assistance to millions affected by natural disasters and man-made crises around the world for nearly 30 years, is just one of the many things grabbing Valentines time and attention these days. (Valentine also partnered with AmeriCares to provide aid to Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated that country in March.)
On baseball matters, though, he will soon turn his attention to spring training, putting the definitive pencil or pen to the paper for the spring training schedule, he said.
Its baseball, so its not really anything new for Valentine. But, this time all the names are
different. And this time spring training will be at an entirely new facility for everyone.
You dont re-create anything, a lot of re-creation of what youve done in the past, changing a
few names, he said. In this situation its adjusting the routine to a brand new facility that the guys havent been on and I havent been on before. So trying to figure out some of the kinks before they happen. Thats part of the challenge right now.
With the Sox, Valentine is entering spring training with a clean slate. In his two previous
managerial stints in the major leagues with the Rangers from 19851992 and the Mets from 19962002 Valentine took over in the middle of a season. In Japan, with the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1995 and 2004-2009, he began at the start of the season. How has this offseason been different than others for him?
Im not good at stuff of whats different and whats new and all that stuff, he said. I always
wake up in the morning and put a full days work in. So I dont know that Im doing anything
different this winter. Im learning a lot of new faces, new names. Im trying to figure out who
it is that Ill be in spring training with. But I dont know that thats so much different than some other years that I was the manager the first year. I guess with the Rangers and the Mets I had some familiarity in that I started managing the team midseason prior year. In Japan it was very much like this in that everything was even newer and more different, I guess. I knew hardly any of the players other than the ones that were held over from my previous tenure in Japan. I dont know different or the same. Its been exciting and fun. But its been a lot of work.
Valentine has been trying to talk with and meet his players. But, he knows this is their down
time, and is trying to respect that. He also knows that the real significant time of getting to know his players and they him will be in spring training and the regular season.
The last thing I want to do is be a pain in any way, he said. But as players come in for their
physicals next week -- some of the guys are going to be in -- I hope to see them then. Kevin
Youkilis has his charity event in Boston Jan. 26. I hope to see him then. Ill see some players at the Jimmy Fund event thats coming up next week. And Ive made a few trips. I think that all of this, pre-spring training stuff as real peripheral time spent. Guys start getting serious about what they have to say and what theyre doing and in their relationships once they start getting in uniform together, I believe.
Its the relationship that develops. Its the understanding of each other that develops over the season and over the years. Meeting someone, thats all it is.
There has been much written and said recently about any potential meetings between
Valentine and Carl Crawford. Valentine, while an analyst for ESPN, was critical of Crawfords
batting stance. Crawford is well known for going off the grid in the offseason.
Its a subject, though, that has grown tiresome for Valentine.
Im tired of answering that question already, he said. And I dont think its important. But
everyone else does. So, well see when that happens.
Its his time. Why do I need to be bothering him?
On baseball matters, Valentine is happy with how the roster is shaping up.
Yes, I think its a continuous work in progress and I think general manager Ben Cherington is doing as good a job as anyone could possibly do keeping one step ahead, he said.
I dont see any biggest need or smallest need. I think well just continue to improve it any way we can from within, from guys getting better out on the field, or maybe getting someone from outside the organization.
Valentine is unsure how Bobby Jenks procedure on his back this week, a follow-up after the
initial procedure in December, will affect the pitching staff. Whether Daniel Bard andor
Alfredo Aceves start or finish the season in the rotation or the bullpen remains to be seen.
Which is fine with Valentine.
I havent seen them throw a pitch yet in person, he said. Its still a work in progress also.
Everyone thinks they have it all figured out in January and they realize in April things change,
in June things change, and its a continuous progress. I think of all of our guys as pitchers and when they pitch, either day of the week or inning of the game, will be decided by the needs of the team and their ability.
How difficult is it to make the adjustment from the bullpen to the rotation?
I dont know, he said. Thousands of guys have done it over the years. Its as tough as it is for the individual. For years thats the only way a pitcher was a starting pitcher. They come to big leagues as a reliever and theyd work their way into the starting rotation. For decades thats the way it was. I dont know that its a monumental task. I just think it depends on the individual.
A pitchers mental approach as well as external influences -- can affect the adjustment.
I guess. I think its always better to perform the way you think of yourself as a performer, Valentine said. But guys do make that mental adjustment on the fly also. Guys go back and forth. Theyre starters, theyre relievers, theyre starters. Guys are starters who become relievers, guys are relievers who become starters. I think in todays world theres a dollar sign
put beside a players name and a lot of it has to do with what the press guide defines their role as. And thats regrettable I think because that shouldnt define the need of a team. But often it does.
For now, hes looking forward to being back in uniform, on the field, working with players.
Opening day of spring training Im really looking forward to, he said. Im not much past there yet.
The day that you get out on the field thats when the clock starts ticking. And I enjoy the race. Preparing for the race is always fun and running the race is always more enjoyable if youre prepared properly.