Big Papi had big problems with Bobby Valentine for the one season he was the manager of the Red Sox.
In David Ortiz’s upcoming autobiography “Papi: My Story,” the Red Sox slugger sounds off and the disastrous 2012 Red Sox team.
According to Papi, Valentine, who managed the Mets to the World Series in 2000 and won championships as a skipper in Japan, got off and the wrong foot with the entire team as early as spring training.
“I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year,” Ortiz writes, according to an excerpt of the book from Sports Illustrated. “It was all about him in the spring.”
One of the first warning signs for Red Sox players, Ortiz explains, is that Valentine ordered players to hit grounders to one another during practices.
“The Red Sox weren’t paying me to hit grounders; I was there to hit balls to the moon,” Ortiz explained.
The situation with Valentine reached a boiling point early in the season after the skipper demanded fielders stop yelling “I got it” to call off teammates during pop-ups.
Shortstop Mike Aviles made the mistake of “instinctively” breaking the rule and Valentine chose to embarrass him in front of the entire team.
“It was unlike anything I had ever seen in the majors,” Ortiz said of the tirade. “He went off on Aviles, cussing and verbally tearing him down in front of everyone. If it had been me, I would have gone up to him, right in front of the fans and dropped a punch.”
As the nightmare campaign dragged on, multiple players complained to Ortiz and other veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia about Valentines’ polarizing ways.
“It was like communicating with a wall,” was Ortiz’s takeaway from a meeting with Valentine to try and clear the air.
At one point during the team’s dismal 69-93 finish, a group of players went to Papi while the club was flying to Toronto and demanded Valentine get canned.
“We want that motherf—– fired before the airplane lands,” teammates told Ortiz.
Papi defused the situation, but conceded “he (Valentine) was aggravating as hell, arrogant and disrespectful, but I felt that we needed to try our best to support him.”
Red Sox players infamously hung out in the bullpen eating fried chicken and chugging beer while the team’s 2011 playoff chances went down the drain during a late-season collapse.
Papi barely touches on that in the excerpt, saying the squad the season before Valentine came on board may have lacked “accountability.”
“Maybe Bobby was told to come in and boss around full-grown men. Maybe the Red Sox wanted to hire a daddy, not a manager,” Ortiz writes.
Regardless of why he was brought in, underwhelming results from a talented roster led to Valentine getting fired at the end of the season.
John Farrell was brought in to replace him and quickly got the team back on track, leading them to a World Series title in 2013.