BOSTON -- The job so far?
“I knew it was going to be extremely challenging and extremely eventful,’’ Bobby Valentine said, “and it’s been eventfully challenging.’’
This was Saturday afternoon before the Red Sox played the Yankees, and Valentine was responding to questions about life as Red Sox manager, 13 games into his first season in that capacity.
Already he has heard boos, and Friday afternoon was present for a “We want Tito” chant that broke out in the ninth inning of his team's 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
“Expected,’’ he said of the booing. “They like performance. But the fans have been great so far. People I’ve met out to dinner, on the streets, on the bike ride, before the game, have been great. Things haven’t worked out during the game. There has been vocal reaction.
“They’ve talked about the lineup. I don’t mind that. Or the pitching changes. I think that’s great. That they’re involved is a good thing," he said. "No one has yelled at me when I’m on my bike or tried to run me over or anything like that. That hasn’t happened yet."
“I’ve been out every night," he added. "It’s been kind of neat to feel the heartbeat.’’
Valentine agreed with someone who asked whether the team is pressing. “Absolutely, no doubt,’’ he said. “They’re trying too hard. Some of the two-strike pitches you’re seeing, some of the at-bats you see, are just not in character. I talked with some of the guys individually this morning. Talking about it and doing it are two different things.’’
What about the idea, expressed by some New York media types, that Valentine doesn’t have the same energy he had when he managed the Mets a decade ago?
“I don’t know, maybe instead of taking a two-hour bike ride I should cut it down to an hour and 45 minutes and have more energy in the morning,’’ the 61-year-old Valentine said. “They might have known a little younger version.’’
It was suggested to Valentine that perhaps a player needed to step up in the clubhouse.
“I don’t think there’s a clubhouse situation,’’ he said. “I think there’s a bloop, a blast, and a, you know, breaking-ball-swung-at-in-the–dirt-by-the-bad-guys situation. This is a team doing pretty good together. We’ve come back in these games. One continuation situation, we could have won five [more] games. Just missed it.’’
Valentine described an encounter he had with a fan Friday.
“A guy on Newbury rolled down his window yesterday and said he thought ESPN’s dying of my hair didn’t do me justice,’’ Valentine said. “He thought my gray was more natural.
“I said I dyed it myself, it wasn’t ESPN. Then he said, ‘Hey they’re really on you about your pitching changes. I said, ‘I got you, brother.’ ’’