After a late season collapse for the ages, the Boston Red Sox decided to shake things up this offseason. Not only did their General Manager bolt to the Cubs – the same GM who built the team into a two-time World Series Champion – but the Sox decided to part ways with Manager Terry Francona as well. The front office went through a major makeover in an effort to try and clean some things up in Boston and now Ben Cherington, the new GM, has made his first big move for the Sox. Cherington decided to hire a manager that was the polar opposite of Terry Francona. Cherington’s hired Bobby Valentine to take over in Beantown.
With the way things finished last year for the Sox, Valentine is not walking into an easy spot. Red Sox nation expects to win and win in a big way. Valentine’s experience dealing with the pressures of a big market are certainly a bonus and things clearly needed to change in Boston, but Cherington is taking a big risk with this hire.
Dustin Pedroia joined WEEI in Boston with the Big Show to talk about how he feels now that the Red Sox have a new manager, on the idea that Red Sox management had conversations with players about not hiring a manager like Bobby Valentine, whether or not he has had a chance to talk to Bobby Valentine, what kind of manager he expects Valentine to be, how tough it was to play through his foot injury, and what he thinks of the new changes around MLB.
How he feels now that the Red Sox have a new manager:
“It’s exciting. It took a while but I think the search is kinda over and now we can all get ready for next year. I’m sure the fans are pretty excited too that someone was named and he’s been around. He’s done it before in a big market so it’s gonna be fun.”
On the idea that they would not hire someone like Bobby Valentine:
“I had meetings right before I came back to Arizona after I had foot surgery. I had meetings with, well Theo was still there so I talked to Theo a little bit but no one ever mentioned anything like that to me. They’re just going along with the manager search trying to find the best guy for the job so it’s their decision anyway. Then Theo left and then it was Ben’s decision so a lot of things happened and there’s a lot of sources that say this or say that and say whatever but the bottom line is now we’ve got our manager, we’re starting to get our team together, and looking forward to 2012.”
Whether or not he has had a chance to talk to Bobby Valentine and if he knows who he is:
“Just from meeting him a few times when we were on ESPN. Just ‘hey, how are you doing’ and stuff like that. I’ve never really sat down and had a conversation with him or anything like that.”
What kind of approach he expects Valentine to take as a Manager:
“I’m not sure. I don’t know Bobby that well. I’ve only played for Tito and I can tell you this: Tito gives you the freedom to go play and play the game the right way. For me I had the green light on the bases, I could bunt whenever I wanted, if Jacoby (Ellsbury) was on first I could give Jacoby a sign for a hit and run. That just gives you the freedom to play the game that I’ve played since I was a little kid. I don’t know. I’m sure when I get to sit down and talk with Bobby I’m sure I will have more of an idea on how everything is gonna be run. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter who is managing our team as a player our goals stay the same. Me and all 24 other guys are trying to win a World Series and that’s it. If we don’t do that it’s a failure. We need to get back to that and everyone needs to stop thinking about how last year was so devastating because it was. I was devastated by it but the main goal for us and for me as a player is to win a World Series every year and we’re gonna try and do that. It doesn’t matter who the manager is. I’m sure his goal is going to be that as well and we’re all excited about it.”
On the season that he had last year dealing with a foot injury:
“It was just different. Some days I would wake up and I would feel great, I would feel normal. If it was cold outside I would feel it in my foot, I would feel, it just felt different, like I was always thinking about it, I was always, before my first movement if I was trying to steal a base or slide or something it would always pop into my mind. Now that it’s out I feel normal. I haven’t thought about it one time and I wake up in the morning and I put my feet down it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold or whatever, I feel normal. I’m excited about it. It’s been about a year and a half since I felt like this so I’m pretty excited about the year.”
What he thinks of the new changes in MLB:
“I think it’s great for baseball. If the situation was the case this last year we would have been in and had an opportunity to continue playing. I think it definitely puts more emphasis on winning the division. You play 162 games and you don’t do that to finish second, third, or win the wild card or whatever. You’re trying to win your division and once you win your division you can do a lot of different things to help accomplish your goals. I think it’s a great format and now winning the AL East is gonna be a huge factor.”