BASEBALL PREVIEW 2012

Love him or hate him, Bobby Valentine is in charge

He’s brash. Maybe even arrogant. He’s charismatic. And combative. He’s convinced he can win in Boston, and dares you to prove him wrong.

Bobby Valentine has brought a new energy to the Red Sox this year after replacing Terry Francona.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Bobby Valentine has brought a new energy to the Red Sox this year after replacing Terry Francona.

New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine shagged balls in the outfield during a spring batting practice.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine shagged balls himself in the outfield during a spring batting practice.

Valentine smiled as he prepared to talk to reporters on the day pitchers and catchers first reported.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine smiled as he prepared to talk to reporters early in camp.

Before pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout, Valentine gathered everyone together.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Before pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout, Valentine gathered everyone together.

Valentine, who moves quickly even at age 61, signed autographs, saying

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine moves quickly even at age 61. "Whatever you do, don't get in front of me," he says.

Valentine tossed a stray baseball into a basket as he walked briskly off the field.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine tossed a stray baseball into a basket as he walked briskly off the field.

Valentine, whose management style is quite literally hands-on, pushed shortstop Mike Aviles into position during a drill.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine, whose management style is hands-on, pushed shortstop Mike Aviles into position during a drill.

Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington are both in their first season at their current positions.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington are both in their first season at their current positions.

The umpires were late to a spring training bout with the Twins, so Valentine relaxed in the dugout with some of his players.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The umpires were late to a spring training bout with the Twins, so Valentine relaxed in the dugout.

Valentine has not pulled any punches in press conferences, even when it comes to established stars such as David Ortiz.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine has been frank in public comments, even about established stars such as Ortiz.

Valentine pedaled to work on a foggy morning in Fort Myers.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine pedaled to work on a foggy morning in Fort Myers.

As par of a team charitable program, Valentine visited a Fort Myers after-school program that provides reading and tutoring services.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Valentine visited a Fort Myers after-school program that provides reading and tutoring services.

Valentine stood in the infield early in spring training. When he managed the Rangers in the '80s, Valentine was known to rake the infield himself before practice.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Now Valentine is tasked with recharging a club that failed poorly to end last season.

Dan Shaughnessy

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/shaughnessy-2436.png With Bobby Valentine, it won’t be boring

The new Red Sox manager is one of a kind. He has been everywhere and knows everyone. He comes as advertised. And we are loving it.

Does Bobby Valentine mean trouble is ahead?

For as dynamic and energetic as the new Red Sox manager is, he often leaves jobs under a cloud of controversy and bitterness.

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC

Six degrees of Bobby Valentine

You think Kevin Bacon is connected? The Hollywood actor has nothing on the Red Sox manager, whose world expands well beyond baseball circles.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/chin_bobbyvwrap_spt06--2409--90x90.jpg The Bobby Valentine wrap is a hit on the menu

A Brookline restaurant has a new hit sandwich, but is its namesake really the inventor of the wrap?

baseball preview 2012

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/bobbyv-2450--150x150.jpg Bobby Valentine has worked magic before

In previous managerial stops, Valentine did a great job of quickly turning around franchises that had fallen on hard times.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/ReceivedContent/Images/mcenroe--90x90.jpg Ralph Branca happy to have Bobby Valentine around

Ralph Branca, the famous father-in-law of the Red Sox manager, says the team is lucky to have hired a “wonderful person.”

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davis_st2193_spts.jpg Celebrity managers don’t have rich history with Red Sox

Bobby Valentine arrived as a big-name manager, but not many of his Boston predecessors had similar billing.

Path from TV booth to manager’s seat is well worn

Bobby Valentine isn’t the first man to cross from TV to a manager’s seat. And sometimes time in the TV booth is helpful.

The Red Sox will be taking direction this season from a new manager, Bobby Valentine, center.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Red Sox preview

Meet the 2012 Red Sox

Check out the projected lineup and rotation for a team that has much to prove after last season’s meltdown.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/01bullpen-2437--90x90.jpg Red Sox bullpen should be ready to work

Bobby Valentine puts a premium on bullpen flexibility, and relievers can expect the manager to ask a lot of them.

//c.o0bg.com/rf/image_90x90/Boston/2011-2020/2012/03/31/BostonGlobe.com/Sports/Images/davis_bv9_spts-001.jpg Shortstop has been a big hole for Red Sox

The Red Sox have started 18 players at shortstop in the last 7 1/2 years. And for at least a little while longer, the instability continues.

AL preview

In beefed-up American League, expect Yankees to reign

The Yankees have issues, but they could emerge as the team that’s impossible to beat.

NL preview

Reloaded Phillies ready for another run

The Phillies, with Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen, look strong again. But could Arizona spring a surprise?

Our picks for the 2012 baseball season

Are the Red Sox serious World Series contenders? Our baseball writers reveal their choices for the 2012 playoff field.

Sports Media

Joe Castiglione still proud as Red Sox voice

The longtime radio announcer is entering 30th year with team, and he’s happy listeners know how emotionally invested he is in the team.