“A lot of players had a lot of issues with our manager last year,’’ said Ortiz, responding to a question whether the club, which finished 69-93 last season, needed to improve its character. “We have a new manager this year, a guy who is familiar with the organization, a guy we pretty much grew up around him. That’s John [Farrell].
“A team is like a human body. If the head is right, the body is going to function right, but if the head is messed up, then the body is going to be all over the place. It seems like that was part of our situation last year. Guys weren’t comfortable with the manager we had. Guys were struggling. Even in situations as a player you need to handle better, sometimes you get confused and get caught in a situation where you don’t know how you’re going to react with them.
“I think the first move our organization did was go out there and try to fix that. I’m pretty sure everybody is looking at that as a positive move, and now it’s like a fresh start. I’m pretty sure a lot of guys are comfortable ... we’re going back to the basics with a manager like John.’’
Ortiz thought he was supportive while Valentine was in Boston last year, but became incensed after the season when Valentine insinuated to NBC’s Bob Costas that Ortiz shut down playing not because of his strained Achilles tendon, but because he considered the season a lost cause, especially after the Sox traded away Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
"He realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore," Valentine said to Costas.
Ortiz said he made a mistake trying to play. “I wasn’t ready,’’ he said. “I thought I was. I was doing some running. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent but I thought I could survive the rest of the season. But things got worse. I got in a lot of pain and I actually put my career to the side, trying to come back, trying to help this ballclub.
“Doctors told me I could have snapped my Achilles running down to second base. You guys know the rest of it.’’
Ortiz said he began to have reservations about Valentine in spring training last year.
“Just to give an example, when we were doing workouts, I started seeing things that I had never seen in baseball as long as I’ve been playing baseball, and I don’t have two days in baseball, I’ve been playing baseball and watching baseball for a long time.
“Baseball is a little complicated, and when you start to add things to that, it doesn’t get any better, it gets worse.’’
Asked to be more specific, Ortiz noted how on relay plays, outfielders were instructed to throw to the cutoff man, regardless of how close the outfielders might have been to the infield. At the time, Valentine explained the cutoffs -- in which the infielders would go out deeper than usual for relays -- were because Carl Crawford was coming off a shoulder problem and Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t have a strong arm.
“I saw guys hitting the cutoff man 20 feet away from the infield,’’ Ortiz said. “You tell me the outfielder can't throw to home plate 20 feet from the infield? Those are things I don’t think get games any better.
“Little things like that happened. Everyone has reasons, but that was a different game than we grew up watching. Those are things, you see it, and the following year you try to fix it, try to go back to basics.’’