Bobby V vows to match fans' passion

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ponders a question during the winter meetings in Dallas on December 7, 2011.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine ponders a question during the winter meetings in Dallas on December 7, 2011. LM Otero/AP Photo

Mohegan - Bobby Valentine has been on sort of a good will tour of New England since being hired as the 45th manager of the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 1.

At the various conventions, dinners and charity events which Valentine has appeared, he has had to answer questions about last season's Boston collapse, placating the fans' interests, while he would most likely rather look forward himself.

"The best fans in the world," Valentine said Friday night prior to an appearance at Mohegan Sun Arena, speaking of New England. "There's no way of matching their passion with anything but passion. We're going to work things out together."

Asked if he had an agenda since taking over, Valentine said he's found the best place to be is "the flow."

"A lot went right (last year)," Valentine said. "We're going to work on all those things that went right."

Valentine, 61, the former Rangers and Mets manager who was an ESPN analyst prior to being hired by the Red Sox, took part in the World Baseball and Softball Coaches' Convention at the Sun. Having been a speaker at the convention several times since its inception in 2004, Valentine presented a "Talking Baseball" session, interviewed by Red Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione.

Castiglione asked Valentine about the rumors last year's Red Sox clubhouse featured days when some players watched games on TV while drinking beer and eating fried chicken.

"We've got to go to draft beer and grilled chicken, I think," Valentine said with a laugh, before offering an apology. "... If that happened it's inexcusable. I apologize for that. The apologies are out there and it will never happen on my watch."

Valentine spoke positively of left fielder Carl Crawford, who underwent surgery on his left wrist this week that could cause him to miss opening day. Valentine lauded Crawford for trying to play in pain last season. He said Crawford didn't realize the wrist was still injured until he began hitting at the start of January and said his wrist "never felt worse."

Clips of an emotional Valentine played on a video screen as he was introduced as the Red Sox manager last month by general manager Ben Cherington.

In the clip, Valentine said he was "honored" "humbled" and "pretty damn excited." He added that he dreamed of taking the Red Sox position but told himself, "Don't go there; you're going to get your heart broken."

Valentine recalled that moment for Castiglione, saying the emotions start behind your knees and don't stop until tears are flowing.

"Obviously it was emotional," Valentine said. "How could it not be emotional?"

It is the ninth year of the World Baseball and Softball Coaches' Convention, which continues today. The softball portion of the convention kicks off today, including appearances by former Stanford All-American and former Olympian Jessica Mendoza and Sue Enquist, who won 11 national championships as a player and a coach at UCLA, finishing her coaching career with a record of 887-175-1.

One of the events organizers, Pete Walker of Waterford, played for Valentine in the Mets organization, including in Triple A with the Norfolk Tides. Walker is currently the bullpen coach with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I like the fact that I'm asked," Valentine said of attending the convention. "When I'm asked, I'll say yes. ... Peter invited me and I had to be here today."

The Red Sox open the season on April 5 at Detroit and this season will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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