- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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"To me, personally, I don't care who my manager is," Ortiz said Monday. "I'm old enough to know what I've got to do, what my routine is, what my problems are, what are my goals. I might be the best piece of cake a manager can ever have. I go about my business, man. I know the rules.
"That's why you never heard anybody say, 'Papi was late, Papi was doing this or that.' I know the rules. Even if they're not in your face 24/7, you know they are there. I follow the rules."
Ortiz has been that way ever since he was a little kid in the Dominican Republic, he said.
"I never liked to look bad," he said. "I never liked my parents having to discipline me. And if you don't like that, the only thing you can do is try and do the right thing."
Ortiz has played for three managers in his 10 seasons with the Red Sox: Grady Little, Terry Francona and Valentine. Asked to speculate on Valentine's successor, Ortiz said: "That's up to them, what they feel about bringing in. I never had problems with Grady, never had problems with Tito. Even with Bobby, I never had -- Bobby would come and ask me questions, I'd ask him questions, tell him what's on my mind.
"I don't have much to say about managers. To me, my job whoever is the manager, I try to let him know I've got his back and hopefully he's got mine. That's it. I know what to do, and if there's anything wrong that I'm doing, let me know. I'm an employee here. Sometimes you're doing things that you don't know you're doing it wrong, but that hasn't been my case."
Ortiz stated the obvious Monday, declaring the season a "disaster all the way around."
"Some people want to blame the manager, some people want to blame the front office, some people want to blame players," Ortiz said. "Even you guys as reporters have something to carry, something to do with all the (expletive). We're all involved. We all need to know it's going to get better.
"Blame is not one guy. This is something we did as a group. It's a chain, a chain reaction. I don't think it's fair to say it's Bobby's fault, the way we failed this year. I don't think it's fair at all. He can tell us what to do, but after that we are in charge."
As for the criticism that Valentine created some of his own problems, Ortiz replied: "Maybe yes, maybe no. I listen to things. I don't know what happened between him and a player. I see how he has been with me. He's been very supportive to me, once I got injured. He's been the guy who wanted to make sure I don't screw up (and play) with my injuries. I really appreciate it."
Ortiz described what it was like for him with Francona and Little.
"Tito used to always have me come in his office, just to remind me how good a player I am, and that gave me confidence. He'd also have me come in the office when I'd be doing good just to tell me, 'All eyes are on you, don't forget about that. Don't screw that up.'
"You know what I'm saying? He had me coming and going. I've been blessed since I came to this organization. It was hard for me at first. I didn't know what my role was going to be. We had like seven guys playing the same position. But the one thing I knew was the manager at the time (Little), he wanted me. That's one reason why I came to be the player I am. I knew he wanted me to be there."
The one thing he can't get used to, he said, is not preparing to play for games in October. This is the third season in a row for the Red Sox to miss the playoffs.
"I don't know what to do with myself," he said. "For the next three weeks, I'm bored."
2hInterview by Buster Olney