Bobby Valentine

Bobby Valentine on MFB: 'I wasn't able to establish the trust that was needed' from Red Sox coaching staff in 2012

May 20, 2015 - 8:34 am
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Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who will return to Fenway Park on Wednesday night to make an appearance with ESPN's broadcast team, checked in with Middays with MFB on Wednesday morning and discussed some of the controversies that ensued during his brief tenure in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. Now the executive director of athletics at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, Valentine said he has no hesitation about returning to Fenway despite his inglorious exit after a 2012 season that included poor play on the field and numerous controversies off it. "I could give a darn about anxiety," he said. "I have a lot of friends that I left in Boston. I've been in Boston 15 times in the last couple of years. I'm excited about getting back there." Valentine was fired one day after a disastrous season in which the Sox finished last in the American League East at 69-92, but he insists he doesn't worry about any regrets. "I don't really look back much at any of my life," he said. "All I know is that it's all about sevens -- there was seven years in Texas and seven years in New York and seven years in Japan and seven months in Boston. It was all kind of fun looking back at all those things. But I don't do the microscope. I try to look forward and enjoy what I'm doing today." Much was made of the issues Valentine had with his coaching staff that season. "I think you hit on the key word there: trust," Valentine said. "That was my mistake, that I wasn't able to establish the trust that was needed throughout that entire group that were in uniform together. Whether it's my fault or someone else's fault, who knows. I'm not a blame-thrower. I can just tell you that when you bring me back to that year that probably the biggest problem was that I delegated the people who were going to speak my gospel, that they didn't know the language that the gospel was written in." One of the first major controversies of 2012 occurred when Valentine had a confrontation with Kevin Youkilis after saying the veteran infielder wasn't as into the game physically or emotionally as he had been. There were rumors that Valentine was ordered to apologize by management, but Valentine said it did not happen that way. "It's amazing how urban legend grows," Valentine said, adding: "[Ben] Cherington never told me to apologize." Valentine explained that he did an interview early Sunday for a show that aired late Sunday night. The following morning, Youkilis was waiting in the manager's office to ask him about the comments. A confused Valentine said he wasn't on a show Sunday night, which irritated Youkilis even more. "It got a little contentious because he thought that I was goofing with him, that I was really on a show and that I'm saying that I wasn't," Valentine recalled. "I said, 'Hey, man, tell me what you're talking about.' When he did, I said if you were bothered by what I said, I apologize. It wasn't meant to be that way. And if there was anyone who lived in Boston at the time who didn't know that Youk's physical condition was ailing, and if they didn't know that his mental condition was ailing, then they should get out of the hole that they're living in and get into the real world. "He was stressed. I was with him every day in spring training. He was in my office five times talking about his emotional stress because he was being accused of something he didn't do by some players on the team. So, to make that seem like it was a Cherington thing or it was anything other than it was, I say shame on the Boston media." Valentine said Youkilis' stress came from him being accused of leaking clubhouse details to the media following the team's 2011 September collapse under Terry Francona. "Totally, yeah. That was the whole situation," Valentine said. "This isn't news, is it? Everybody know that that's what was going on there, that's why he had a frown on his face the whole time." Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On if he could have made better decisions in 2012: "We could look back at it, you come into a situation and you only have so much time and energy, and I went to spring training, there was no one who made the team out of spring training who was pitching in the bullpen who went to spring training as a bullpen pitcher. They all went to spring training as starters, including [Alfredo] Aceves, including [Andrew] Miller, including [Vicente] Padilla and all the names we had out there, and [Daniel] Bard went as a starter not as a reliever but everybody went as a starter, and then when the season started I had to figure out who was going to be the relievers and it was tough. I directed a lot of my attention probably in the wrong directions, and you don't get time back. There's only those [86,400] seconds in a day, and once they're gone, they're gone, and sometimes they just weren't used properly." On if he was surprised the 2013 team won the World Series: "Yeah, because there were 15 new guys on that team that weren't there in 2012. And I don't think anyone in the history of the game ever changed a 25-man roster so drastically and came up on top. So I think anyone who was watching was surprised." On whether there was a time when he knew it wasn't working: "I don't know if that time ever came. Probably when I went off to [Larry Lucchino's] house and they said that the second year wasn't going to be something that I could have. Because the entire time I was looking at the long term, at making things happen and doing things that needed to be done so that that could be the organization that everyone wanted -- the fans and the front office and the players. I never felt that, 'Oh, [expletive], it's never going to work.' We were going to make it better next year." On if he regrets pinch-hitting for Jose Iglesias on an 0-2 count: "Well again, in a vacuum, that's one of those crazy things where people said, 'Oh, his confidence.' [I was pinch-hit for] with the bases loaded in a 3-2 count on me and my confidence wasn't shattered, and life went on. And when the manager explained to me why he did it, i thought it was a pretty good move. He thought that Jerry Turner could hit the ball over the fence if we needed three runs and I was trying to provide a single or a double. ... When I talked to Jose and I told him that [Jon] Lester was at a point where we're trying to get him back to .500, if he didn't win that game, he wasn't going to have a chance at .500, he was busting his butt to do everything he can to win that game. And I was hoping that, I think it was, I forget, it might have been [Pedro] Ciriaco on first, I was hoping he was going to be able to steal the base early in the count and I had Daniel [Nava] ready there to pinch hit if in fact he got to second base, when he got to second base I said, 'Hey, it's a good time to do this, we have one shot at least tying the game so Jon doesn't get another loss in the column where he can never get back to .500,' and I took the one shot. And Jose Iglesias understood it totally, and I don't know why other people who claim to be great baseball men didn't understand it." On how much responsibility he takes for the 16-42 end to the 2012 season: "I think it's all on me, every game I ever managed -- I probably have, I don't know, what, 1,600 losses, 1,700 wins -- I think every one of those 1,600 losses are on me that I could have done something differently. When you mention that end, I always looked back where it was like 52-50 I think we were after 100 games, and people were actually thinking it was going to be a remarkable season with 50 guys, 60 guys on the disabled list but still they're going to hold on their own and make a run at it, and then the ship took on too much water, no doubt about that, and when we started to sink, there was no recovering." On his current relationship with Red Sox ownership: "Larry, I think, is one of the great baseball people of all time, regardless of anything that happened in 2012. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame. I think he's a wonderful person. I've known him for a long time and nothing at all has changed. I talked to John [Henry] once and I saw Tom [Werner] out at the scouts dinner during the summer in L.A. and all was cool, pleasant. They know I wish them they best, and I think they wish me the best." On whether he knew he was the placeholder for John Farrell: "Let's not kid anyone. I was given a two-year contract, and Peter Gammons told me the first day that I arrived in spring training that John was going to be the manager after two years. I understood that, that I was there as a placeholder and to make things better and be as good as we could be until then. I wasn't making my career to hang like a hat on my stint in Boston. I was there to do the best job I could for as long as they needed me." On Wednesday's ESPN broadcast: "They called me up and said that they're doing this international thing. I'm running around, and they asked me to come up and talk for an inning and I said I think I can do that. Whatever questions they ask, I hope that I can answer them so that the viewing audience comes away a little better than when they turned on the TV."