Valentine has no deal signed to return to Japan

TOKYO -- Bobby Valentine brushed off questions about his future, saying he had not been offered a job by any team in Japan or the major leagues.

"I haven't been offered a contract to manage anywhere next year, so any talk on where I might manage would be premature," Valentine said Tuesday at a luncheon.

"As far as the parameters are concerned, it's very simple: I want to be challenged, I want to be appreciated and I want to be comfortable in my surroundings, wherever I am," he added.

Valentine, who has drawn interest from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers, led the Chiba Lotte Marines this year to their first Japan Series title in 31 years.

Valentine confirmed at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan that he has no deal signed with Lotte for next season. He also denied reports that the Marines had recently made him a new three-year offer.

"That has been falsely reported, by these guys over here," Valentine said, gesturing to a table of Japanese sportswriters.

"I was in a room with my general manager and afterward someone reported not what I said but what someone who wasn't in the room said," he said.

Valentine, whose success has made him immensely popular in Japan, is in his second stint with the Marines after also managing the team in 1995. The club has made it clear it would like to retain his services.

Valentine also has managing experience with the Texas Rangers (1985-92) and piloted the New York Mets to the 2000 World Series.

It has been reported that Valentine will meet with Devil Rays officials at baseball's annual winter meetings in Palm Springs, Calif. next week.

Valentine, 55, also mentioned his connections to the Dodgers, who drafted him in 1968. Valentine pointed out that he has had a good relationship with former longtime Dodgers manager and current team adviser Tommy Lasorda for 37 years and that his wife, Mary, is the daughter of former Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca.

Valentine, who was also honored this season with the Shoriki Award for his contributions to Japanese baseball, on Tuesday took the opportunity to plug his version of a true "World Series" featuring the major-league champion against the Japan Series

Valentine said he'd like to see the series played in Hawaii and that all the profits should go to charities that aid children affected by disasters throughout the world.