BOSTON (CBS) – Bobby Valentine was one happy man when he was announced as the 45th manager of the Boston Red Sox.
“I’m honored, I’m humbled, And I’m pretty damn excited,” Valentine said after putting on the Red Sox #25 jersey for the first time.
“I understand the rich tradition of baseball in the city of sports in this community. I understand the great rivalries that this team has and I understand the great talent that has been assembled here,” he said. “The talent level of the players we have in this organization is a gift to anyone. And I’m the receiver of that gift.”
With that, Valentine shook hands with general manager Ben Cherington and told him, “I think we’re going to do this man. I really and truly appreciate this opportunity.”
“I’m very confident we’ve found the right person in Bobby Valentine,” said Cherington.
Now the fun begins.
“I would say the first order of business is to get to work and get to work hard,” said Valentine, who is going to make sure he gets to know his new team before Spring Training comes in February.
“I’m not going to ask them to dinner every Thursday night, but there is going to be a continuing conversation with these guys so I can put them together collectively to be the championship team that this town deserves.”
“This is challenge of getting to know Dustin Pedroia; to figuring out who and what he is. Getting to know Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, every peson on this team, so I can figure out how to be a part of their team,” Valentine said.
The 61-year-old Stamford, Connecticut native takes over a team that blew a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race, and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. He will use his 15-years of major league experience to establish a group that can get back to the promised land of baseball in October.
“Something happened in September that I wasn’t involved in; I didn’t see it firsthand. I think that reputation is something that other people think about you, and right now maybe this group of guys had a reputation that isn’t warranted,” said Valentine. “Everything I’ve heard about the players in uniform last year, and the coaching staff, said nothing but great character. There may have been characters that got out of line, there may have been situations that spun out of control. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But I’m looking forward to working with this group and establishing a culture of excellence.”
He is also looking forward to seeing his former cross-town rivals, the New York Yankees, in one of the best rivalries in sports.
“Six times during the season is a little different than 18 times during the season. I know the Yankees have a team that you have to have your best foot forward when facing them,” he said. “I think we’re going to be able to match them. It’s not going to be the best team that wins, it’s who plays the best.”
As for all of those that see Valentine as a “polarizing” figure, he says he is just a regular guy.
“I have a lot of adjectives said about me,” Valentine said. “I can’t describe them all and I won’t even defend them all. It’s about reputation versus character. I think people who know me, and take the time to get to know me, understand that I have some qualities in my character that are OK. I am not the genius that I’ve heard people refer to me as. I am not the polarizing guys that people refer to me as. I’m not the monster that breathes fire that some people have referred to me as.”
“I’m a regular human being with regular feelings and regular attributes that make me what I am,” he said. “And I think some of them, from what I’m told from people that know me, are OK. I don’t know if I’m polarizing or any of those other things. It’s just what I am.”