Red Sox hire Bobby Valentine
The Boston Red Sox announced Wednesday night that Bobby Valentine will be introduced as manager Thursday.
The team will host a news conference at 5:30 p.m. at Fenway Park to announce Valentine's hire.
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Valentine, reached at his Connecticut home before Wednesday's announcement, called the Red Sox "a storied franchise."
"Having a great baseball team with a chance of winning the ultimate title is what people dream about, and I'm one of those who dream about those things," Valentine told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor by phone.
The hiring comes a little over two months after the Red Sox announced on Sept. 30 that they were not exercising the two-year contract option they held on Terry Francona, who in his eight seasons as manager guided the Red Sox to two World Series titles, the one in 2004 ending an 86-year championship drought.
But Francona also presided over the collapse of the Red Sox in a 7-20 September in which they fell out of playoff contention on the final day of the regular season. No team had ever held a lead as large as the Red Sox had for a playoff spot so deep into a season -- the Sox held a nine-game advantage in the wild card on Sept. 3 -- and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Francona said at the time he parted from the Red Sox that he felt it was "time for a new voice," but also said that he was never asked to return.
Whether the players are open to the new voice is up for debate after a clubhouse source told ESPNBoston.com last week that a team official told at least one player at the beginning of the managerial search that they "weren't going to hire Bobby Valentine or someone like that."
The conversation suggests that Valentine, known as a no-nonsense manager in stints with the Mets and Rangers during 15 years, was perceived by some as a darkhorse candidate who would not be popular with some players.
"They're going to have a mess on their hands," the source said when asked what would happen if Valentine, who at that time was just one of several candidates, was hired.
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney had heard similar rumblings, citing sources Wednesday saying that "some Red Sox players have been upset" that Valentine had emerged as a candidate and have been "grumbling to each other, through texts and phone calls."
Valentine declined to address reports that some Red Sox players are upset that he emerged as a leading candidate for the job.
Asked if he was surprised it took this long for him to get this close to a big league job after his firing from the Mets in 2002, Valentine told ESPNNewYork.com, "I enjoy every day of my life, so when I wake up in the morning I do the best I can. I think that's always kept me from worrying or being consumed with what I'm not doing. When I had a job, I wasn't thinking about having another job."
Valentine, who has been working as a baseball analyst for ESPN, had been kept under wraps as a candidate after new general manager Ben Cherington publicly announced his plans to choose a manager from a list of five publicly announced suitors for the job.
Valentine's candidacy only became public knowledge after Dale Sveum, one of the five candidates, was hired by former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to manage the Chicago Cubs on Nov. 17.
Valentine's first job will be reversing a culture in which players ate takeout fried chicken and drank beer in the clubhouse during games instead of sitting on the bench with their teammates.
"You give loyalty, you'll get it back. You give love, you'll get it back," said Tommy Lasorda, Valentine's manager in the minor leagues and a mentor who encouraged him to try for the Red Sox job.
Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days. I think everyone likes discipline. I think everyone likes structure. Everyone likes to be acknowledged when they do things properly. Discipline and rules and things like that -- it's just about right and wrong.” -- Bobby Valentine
on day of formal interview with Red Sox
"And that's the way it has to be," the Dodgers legend said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
At a news conference the day he formally interviewed for the job, Valentine said he learned a lot about discipline while managing in Japan. Although the players there are more respectful of authority and less likely to step out of line, he said, they also appreciated having clearly defined rules so they knew where their limits were.
"Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days," Valentine said. "I think everyone likes discipline. I think everyone likes structure. Everyone likes to be acknowledged when they do things properly. Discipline and rules and things like that -- it's just about right and wrong."
Francona admitted he lost his players near the end of a tenure during which he counted on them to police themselves and never said anything negative about them in public. When Valentine was in New York, he did not hesitate to criticize his players and bickered with them, his boss and the media.
Former Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Valentine is every bit a players' manager but one who insists on accountability.
"Bobby is not going to be the guy who's cracking the whip. I can tell you that right now," said Minaya, who was in the Rangers and Mets front offices when Valentine managed there. "He's going to be a players' manager, but he's going to command respect. ... I think what Bobby's going to try to do is demand that players be professional."
Valentine managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-92, when he was fired by then-owner and future U.S. President George W. Bush. His last big league managerial job was with the Mets, from 1996-02, where he guided the Mets to consecutive wild-card berths and a trip to the 2000 World Series.
Two years later, they finished last and Valentine was fired, leaving him with a 1,117-1,072 record. He has never finished in first place in 15 major league seasons.
But Valentine went to Japan and managed Chiba Lotte to a championship in 2005. He has been working as an analyst for ESPN, where he has said Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett should work faster and left fielder Carl Crawford should close his stance.
"These last two years have been good for Bobby. It gave him a chance to get back and become familiar with all the players in the major leagues. That will help him," Branca said. "Boston is a challenge, but when has he not liked challenges?"
A native of Connecticut and a former roommate of Bill Buckner's, Valentine was the most intriguing candidate for the Red Sox job on a list that included Sveum, Gene Lamont, Torey Lovullo, Pete Mackanin and Sandy Alomar Jr. After his name surfaced, he was endorsed for the job not only by Lasorda but by Steve Phillips, the Mets GM who bickered with Valentine and eventually fired him; Bush has also expressed a fondness for his former skipper.
Minaya said Valentine's outsized personality will be a plus in Boston, where fans still are stewing over last year's collapse.
"All year they're going to be reminded of what happened in '11, and Bobby will be able to take the attention on himself," said Minaya, whose Mets missed the playoffs on the last day of the season after leading the division in both 2007 and '08. "We lived it. There's no doubt that all year long the Red Sox are going to be reminded of last year. I think Bobby's going to be a positive force in getting people to focus on '12."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and Gordon Edes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.