Major Leagues: Valentine brings complex reputation to Red Sox
BOSTON ó Sixty-one days after Terry Francona’s reign as Boston Red Sox manager came to an unsavory end, Bobby Valentine rode into town as the 45th manager in franchise history.
Just who are the Red Sox getting in Valentine?
“I think it’s a perfect hire. He’s exactly what they need,” said Tom Grieve, who was the first general manager to hire Valentine as a manager back in 1985 with the Rangers. “I applaud them for having the courage to hire him.”
Courage generally isn’t viewed as a trait that goes into a managerial hire. But then again, Valentine comes to the Red Sox with enough baggage to stretch from Boston to his last managerial stop in Japan. He’s polarizing. He spars with players, with brass and with the media. He’s candid to a fault, and opponents love nothing more than beating his team.
But several players who have played for Valentine spoke glowingly about him.
“You talk about Mr. Baseball. He is Mr. Baseball,” said former Red Sox Benny Agbayani, who played parts of nine seasons under Valentine with the Mets and with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. “He has a love and passion for this game. He studies this game.”
During his managerial career, Valentine’s style, depending on your perspective or the day of the week, has vacillated between utter chaos and complete harmony. It has worked more often than not, with a record just above .500 and one National League pennant to show for it.
“He’s a pretty straightforward man. If you screwed up, he would let you know,” Agbayani said. “Some players, they didn’t like that. Some players did. They just came to play.”
Grieve thinks Valentine’s reputation as a manipulator within the clubhouse and an organization is unearned.
“I know that that’s (his reputation), but a lot of the reasons that I see for it, when people get to know him, they’ll find out that those reasons aren’t really valid,” said Grieve. “…. To me, he’s the ultimate team player.”