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Tom Werner on D&C: Rumors of Bobby Valentine front office feud ‘overblown’

03.27.12 at 10:24 am ET

Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to promote the third annual Run-Walk to Home Base and to discuss the state of the organization with just a few weeks remaining before the start of the season.

Werner spoke at length about new manager Bobby Valentine, who has become the face of the organization throughout spring training. Valentine has already made a name for himself in Boston as a strong manager by banning beer in the clubhouse, mandating that players take the team bus to away spring training games, and generating rumors of a rift between himself and general Ben Cherington over roster decisions. Valentine dismissed those reports as “lazy journalism,” and Werner also denied the existence of any real issue between Cherington and Valentine.

“I think it was overblown,” Werner said. “It’s appropriate for these guys to debate who should make this squad and who should be the starting shortstop. That’s healthy.”

Werner also detailed some of the reasons as to why he thought Valentine was the best choice to replace former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who stepped down in the wake of the team’s historic September collapse. Werner said he was impressed by Valentine after sharing a private dinner with him sometime during the managerial search, and he noted that Valentine’s intelligence played a role in his hiring.

“He had the analysis of what he would do if he came in that related to everything from how he might be able to help Carl Crawford‘s hitting style or how he might be able to help a certain pitcher,” Werner said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that of all the people that we met, Bobby was the most intelligent. I was really impressed with him.”

Werner also spoke reluctantly about the team’s plans for commemorating Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary on April 20, when the Red Sox will face the Yankees in an afternoon matinee just as they did 100 years ago. Although Werner was very tight-lipped about the team’s plans, he did mention that the players will wear throwback uniforms and gave Red Sox Nation a hint as to who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

“Mayor [John] Fitzgerald threw [the inaugural first pitch] out [100 years ago] and sitting next to him was his daughter, Rose Kennedy,” Werner said. “Wait and see, you guys can come to the park. We’ll have a great time.”

Following are highlights of the conversation. To listen to the interview, go the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On which player he would like to see succeed most this season: “If I had to pick one, I guess I’d like Carl Crawford to bounce back. This guy is so talented. He had a miserable year last year, and he’s determined to come back and it would be very satisfying because he’s got a world of talent and the desire to do it.”

On the payroll this season: “We obviously spent an enormous amount of money last year, but when you go out and you get the talent of Carl Crawford and [Adrian] Gonzalez, you’re not going to do that every year. I think Larry [Lucchino] probably told you, it’s the highest payroll we’ve ever had. We certainly admit that we made some missteps, but that goes with the territory. We have enough money to make some strategic moves during the season. We think that we’re where we should be right now.”

On whether Valentine’s outspoken personality is a way to take the spotlight off his players: “I don’t know whether that’s something where that’s a byproduct of his talent. The most important thing, obviously, we needed a change last year. I think that he’s a leader. In the end, the players have to play, but I think he’s the right manager for us.”

Read More: Bobby Valentine, carl crawford, Tom Werner,
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