Ortiz spoke to reporters on Tuesday about the transition from Valentine to Farrell. The Red Sox slugger, who actually defended Valentine throughout last season, finally came clean and admitted that something wasn’t quite right in the team’s clubhouse during its 69-93 campaign.
“You know, a lot of players have a lot of issues with our manager last year,” Ortiz said. “We have a new manager, a guy who is familiar with the organization, a guy who we pretty much grew up around. That’s John [Farrell]. An organization, a team, is like the human body. If the head is right, the body is going to function right. If the head is messed up, then the body is going to be all over the place. It seemed like that was part of our situation last year. Guys weren’t comfortable with the manager that we had. Guys were struggling. Even situations that, as a player, you need to handle better, sometimes you get confused and you get caught in a situation where you don’t know how you’re going to react to things.
“The first thing that our organization did was to go out there and try to fix that,” Ortiz continued. “I’m pretty sure that everybody is looking at that as a positive move. Now, it’s like a fresh start. I’m pretty sure a lot of guys are comfortable with what they’re going to be seeing. We’re going back to the basics with a manager like John.”
Ortiz had questions about Valentine’s approach as early as spring training last year, when the former Sox skipper conducted drills that Ortiz found to be unusual for major leaguers. One such drill involved infielders going deep into the outfield for cutoffs and relays, something that boggled Ortiz’s mind.
Ortiz, who missed most of the second half because of an Achilles injury, said he expects to be ready for Opening Day. He also made it clear that the team needs to perform better overall in order to avoid another disappointing season in a difficult division.
“To be honest with you, I ran out of patience last year,” Ortiz said. “And I’m a player. So I can imagine where the fans were at . . . We definitely need to come back and play way better than we did last year.
“When you have a year like we had last year, there’s no hope. You finish last in your division. So when a team like this one finishes last in your division, there’s a lot of things we’ve got to fix.”
The Red Sox will enter the 2013 season in a rather unfamiliar role. Instead of taking their usual seat among the American League favorites, the Sox have become underdogs, which is something that could serve the team well after what has transpired over the last two years.