Bobby V: Don't question my integrity

Updated: September 7, 2012, 7:30 AM ET
By John Hickey | Special to ESPNBoston.com

SEATTLE -- Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Wednesday night that he was joking earlier in the day when he said he'd like to punch a Boston sports radio host who asked if Valentine had "checked out" this season. But he didn't back down from his greater point -- questioning his integrity and work ethic is out of bounds.

Valentine, under fire as the Red Sox endure their worst season in years, also said in the radio interview that his first season in Boston has been "miserable."

During Valentine's weekly interview on radio station WEEI, host Glenn Ordway asked Valentine whether he had "checked out."

Valentine If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How's that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing.

-- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to WEEI when asked if he has "checked out." Valentine later said he was joking

"What an embarrassing thing to say," Valentine responded. "If I were there right now, I'd punch you right in the mouth. Ha, ha. How's that sound? Sound like I checked out? What an embarrassing thing.

"Why would somebody even, that's stuff that a comic strip person would write," Valentine said. "If someone's here, watching me go out at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, working with the young players, bringing in the right relief pitchers to get a win, putting on a hit and run when it's necessary, talking to the guys after the game in the food room. How could someone in real life say that?"

Asked before the Red Sox's game with the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night if he was joking about punching Ordway, Valentine said, "Of course. Didn't I say, 'Ha, ha?' "

But Valentine wasn't joking about defending the effort he puts into his job.

"If anyone in this room wants to question my integrity, I will ask someone to referee," he said. Moments later he added, "I don't think physical violence is necessary for a 60-year-old.

"But I think I made the point, though, that there are lines that should be drawn in the sand when someone is trying to be professional and sounding unprofessional. It's better to be abrupt and then let everyone know you're kidding."

Valentine also grew upset when informed during the radio interview that reporters noted he showed up at around 4 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. PT game Friday against the Athletics in Oakland. He addressed the topic with reporters in his pregame media session Wednesday.

Valentine said his workday starts at 4:30 p.m., and "I got there at 4:04," although he acknowledged that's later than he usually arrives at the park on a game day.

Last Friday, Valentine said, he was across the bay at San Francisco International Airport at 9:30 a.m. to pick up his son, whom he was to see for just the second time this season. The flight was late, his baseball papers were back in his hotel, and he said his mistake was in going back to the hotel before going to the Coliseum because he ran into traffic.

"So I got to the stadium a little later than normal -- not late," Valentine said, adding that he had checked in with the training staff and submitted that night's lineup while in his car.

"But if anybody cared about it and felt it was important enough to write seriously about it, you could have asked me what the situation was and I would have been happy to tell you."

Valentine said he thought the media crossed a line.

"When you talk about a man's family or a man's integrity, you've drawn the line," he said. "That's where I draw the line."

Valentine said that after taking the job on Dec. 3, he worked daily on behalf of the team straight through to spring training with only two days off for Christmas, and he said he'd only had two days off during the season.

"If that's not enough work for anyone, that's all I have," he said. "I go every day, all day.

"Again, to see my son for a couple hours more, I think is more than worth the tradeoff of sitting around in my underwear for two hours here in the clubhouse. So that's that."

As to his year in Boston being miserable, Valentine said that was true enough, although he didn't like that thought to be out in front of the public.

"I don't like to talk about my emotions or feelings," he said. "There's been a little misery. I don't know if it goes 24/7. After a loss, I am miserable."

Asked if this was his most trying season, Valentine paused briefly before answering.

"Most trying? Most adventurous and most challenging," the manager said.

In explaining his reasoning behind asking whether Valentine had "checked out" during the Wednesday afternoon radio interview, Ordway noted seeing reports that Valentine arrived at the park later than usual Friday because he was picking his son up at the airport. That set off the manager.

"I shouldn't have to explain that," Valentine said. "That pisses me off. Because whoever wrote that knew what happened. They knew that my son was coming to see me for the first time this lousy season that I got to see him on the road, and that his flight was late, and that I was waiting at the airport in San Francisco for his flight to come in, and I came in and sent the lineup in and reported to my coaches that I was going to be a little late. For someone to say that I was late is an absolute disgrace to their integrity if they have any.

"I wasn't late. When you call in and say that you're delayed in traffic coming from the San Francisco Airport to the stupid Oakland Coliseum and that there's a traffic jam, then you're not late, no."

In defending himself, Valentine said he thought Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon showed up at the park regularly at around the time he showed up Friday.

"It's cheap journalism, isn't it?," Valentine said. "Joe Maddon in his Sports Illustrated article said, 'What do you think I'm gonna do? Go around the clubhouse and sit around in my underwear for a couple hours? I show up at 3:30 or 4 o'clock every day.' Every day. Does that mean he's late every day?"

Maddon reacted with amusement when informed of Valentine's comments Wednesday.

"Sorry I'm late, I just got here," he said to reporters at Tropicana Field upon entering for his pregame media appearance, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Maddon, who routinely arrives at the park around 2:45 p.m. according to the newspaper, also tweeted: "Apologies to the writers for being late to today's pregame session. My pedicure appointment ran a little late."

Maddon also said that he found the situation "amusing, and somewhat flattering," and said, according to the newspaper, that he gets to the park "in plenty of time."

Valentine's first season in Boston has been trying. The team entered Wednesday 63-74, far out of playoff contention, and could be headed for its worst finish since 1966. Valentine's tenure has been marked by internal discord and issues with communication at various levels internally. He has been given a vote of confidence by ownership that he will finish out the season, though he has not received such an assurance for next season. A source told ESPNBoston.com he will be evaluated at the end of the season.

Despite the disappointing results, the 62-year-old Valentine said he doesn't regret returning to manage in the majors for the first time since 2002.

"Regret returning? No, life is a journey, you guys, you have to understand," he told WEEI. "Everyone thinks that misery is something that people run away from. I think you learn from misery. You learn from challenges, you learn from failures as well as you learn from success. So this is what I chose to do, and I think it's been, you know, miserable, but I think it's also been part of my life's journey."

Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, in Pawtucket, R.I., to see Boston's Triple-A affiliate in a playoff game, declined comment on Valentine's radio interview.

"Talk shows are talk shows," Lucchino said.

Lucchino did agree with Valentine's use of the word "miserable."

"That, in accordance with our expectations, it has been a miserable and disappointing season," Lucchino said.

Valentine said his breakfast meeting with owner John Henry on Monday in Seattle was productive (aside from the food) and insisted he was not worried about whether the team would fire him after the season.

"This is not who I am, this is just what I am," Valentine said. "I am concerned with who I am."

He then was asked flatly whether he wanted to come back next season.

"I want to do whatever I can do to wake up every morning and do the best that I can do at whatever it is that I choose to do," he said.

Would he choose to manage the Sox next season?

"Of course," Valentine said. "If that's what I am asked to do, that's what I'm going to get paid to do."

ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald contributed information to this report.

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