FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz ripped former manager Bobby Valentine on Tuesday, saying, “He did things I’d never seen in the game before.”
Ortiz, who said he expects to be ready for Opening Day as the strength of his troubled Achilles heel improves, said, “An organization and a team is like the human body. If the head is right, the body is gonna function right. But if the head is mixed up they’re going to be all over the place. That was part of our situation last year. Guys weren’t comfortable with the manager we had.
“Even situations, as a player, you have to handle better. But you get confused and you don’t know how you’re gonna react with things. The first move our organization did was go and try to fix that. I’m pretty sure we‘re looking at that as a positive move. It’s like a fresh start. Pretty sure a lot of guys are comfortable with a manager like John (Farrell). We’re going to get back to the basics,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz was one of the few players who publicly supported Valentine, but at the end of the year Valentine made the comment that Ortiz “shut it down” and decided not to play the rest of the season. Ortiz had suffered a setback with his heel and was advised to shut down and rest the injury.
Asked what specifically he remembered about Valentine, he said, “Last year in spring training just to give you an example, when we were doing workouts, I started seeing things I’ve never seen in baseball. I’ve been watching and playing baseball for a long time. I had question marks on things that I saw. Those question marks went into the season and you guys saw the disaster that happened.
“We were doing drills and game-changing things. For example, we practiced cutoff and relay throws coming from outfielder. The shortstop and second baseman have to go two feet from the outfielder to take the throw and it gives the runner an extra step. The outfielder is watching the guys run. I didn’t think we got anyone out with that play. I saw guys hitting the cutoff man 20 feet away from the infield.”
Valentine’s reasoning was his outfielders had lousy arms and he wanted the stronger-armed infielders making the throw.
Ortiz said he will take his time easing into things this spring, but he thinks Opening Day is going to happen even though he is not yet 100 percent.
“I’m not concerned about it because we did a whole bunch of stuff,” he said. “We went back to take an MRI of my Achilles and it was pretty normal. Before that there was a tiny tear so that I was worried about my Achilles snapping. That’s not the case any more.
Concerning last year, he said: “The way we struggled and not being able to do anything, it was very hard on me. I remember when I tried to get back and my thing got kind of worse, I pretty much tried to give it a try but it didn’t work out. That’s when they had to put me off. I was hoping things would get better but it doesn’t work that way. It was hard.”
In retrospect he felt he wasn’t ready to return.
“Yeah I wasn’t ready. I thought I was,” he said. “I was doing some running and stuff. I knew I wasn’t 100 percent but I thought I could survive the rest of the season but things got worse. I put my career to the side and tried to come back. And I tried to help this ballclub that was struggling badly.”
Asked if they got him enough help with offseason moves, Ortiz said, “I think they did a good job. It always can be better. Sometimes it’s not what you want and it is what it is. If you look at market this offseason there wasn’t much you could possibly get. It wasn’t anything crazy out there. They went out and got some good players. We need to get back in and play way better than what we did last year.”