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BOSTON (CBS) — The Bobby Valentine era is over.
The Red Sox fired their manager on Thursday, after leading the team to a dreadful 69-93 record in his only year on the job.
It was their worst record since 1965.
The team announced via email on Thursday afternoon that Valentine would not return as manager for the 2013 season.
“I understand this decision,” Valentine said in the team’s announcement.
“This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation. It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization. I’m sure next year will be a turnaround year.”
“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons,” general manager Ben Cherington said in the team’s email. “No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. … With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”
Larry Lucchino likewise stated that Valentine was not the only reason the 2012 season was such a disappointment, but that a change was nevertheless necessary.
“Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes,” Lucchino said in the team’s announcement. “Bobby leaves the Red Sox’ manager’s office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well.”
Valentine, 62, took the job last December after the Red Sox front office performed an extended managerial search. With general manager Theo Epstein leaving shortly after the season for the Cubs, and with Terry Francona parting ways with the team as well, Ben Cherington took over with the franchise in flux. Several reports indicated he wanted Dale Sveum to take over as manager but that Lucchino and Red Sox ownership remained unconvinced he was the right man for the job.
Valentine interviewed for the job in late November, after the Sox had already interviewed Sveum, Pete Mackanin, Torey Lovullo, Gene Lamont and Sandy Alomar Jr. A little more than a week later, Valentine was at Fenway Park, sporting jersey No. 25, being introduced as the newest manager of the Boston Red Sox.
“He’s the right man for the job — the right man, at the right time, for this particular team,” John Henry said after Valentine’s official introduction. “We are set to win. We should have won last year. We are built to win. We thought in the end that Bobby was the person most capable of taking us to where we want to go in 2012 and 2013. We’re not at a point right now where we’re building for the future. We are trying to win now. We always try to do both, but we felt that he was the right person at the right time for this team.”
Valentine’s tenure got off to a rocky start, with the team going 1-5 to start the season. After the Sox won three straight games to climb back toward .500, Valentine publicly questioned Kevin Youkilis’ effort and dedication to baseball, inviting controversy into the clubhouse for the first time of the season. The Sox then dropped five straight games, after which Valentine declared the 4-10 Red Sox had reached “rock bottom.”
On April 25, Valentine made headlines for making a bad lineup after not knowing that opposing starting pitcher Liam Hendriks was a righty. By mid-June, reports surfaced of a “toxic” clubhouse, with several players on the team simply not liking Valentine and one player “openly challenging” him.
In early August, Valentine received a vote of confidence from Cherington and the owners, though that came just one week before Yahoo! Sports reported a meeting took place in late July in which some players proposed a mutiny of sorts against Valentine. Ownership and players didn’t deny the meeting, but they denied the reported message of players no longer wanting to play for Valentine.
After that, though, things only got worse for the Red Sox, who were just two games under .500 at 57-59 at the time of the report. They’d lose 34 of their final 46 games.
While certainly not all of the Red Sox’ struggles on the field have been Valentine’s fault, he’s done little to help himself in terms of currying favor from fans and media. He said he had “the weakest roster we’ve ever had in September in the history of baseball.” He pinch hit for Jose Iglesias in the middle of an at-bat. He told a radio host he’d punch him in the face if they were in the same room. He responded with “Who cares?” when asked a question about his lineup.
Valentine entered the season with an MLB managing record of 1,117-1,072 in parts of 15 seasons with the Texas Rangers and New York Mets.