Transcript of Bobby Valentine on D&C: ‘I don’t think [Curt Schilling] knows anything about our team’
|04.11.12 at 11:29 am ET|
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss his team and the first five games of the 2012 season. With the Red Sox at 1-4 and coming off a loss to the Blue Jays, the Sox are looking to right the ship and improve what they have struggled with thus far in the season.
“We just haven’t put it all together yet,” Valentine said. “When we put it all together, I think we’ll all be happy. That’s what we’re waiting for.”
Things got slightly contentious later in the interview when Valentine was asked about criticism from former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling last month. Valentine had previously dismissed what Schilling said — saying “Consider the source” to reporters in response — and Valentine said he and Schilling have spent time with each other, even as recent as spring training. However, Valentine said that doesn’t mean Schilling has an accurate feel of this Red Sox team.
“I think he knows a lot about baseball, and I did hang around with him a bit,” Valentine said. “I don’t think he knows anything about our team.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
As someone who has very strong opinions and is willing to share those opinions with anyone who will listen, how do you avoid saying in something that can get you in hot water like Ozzie Guillen?
I have no idea.
Do you think the Ozzie thing was handled appropriately by the Marlins?
I haven’t followed it totally. It seems like a situation that, you know … I don’t know how to comment on Ozzie’s situation. I hope he comes out of it OK. Ozzie and I have been friends for years and I hate to think that it’s a big problem, but it looks like it is a big problem.
Record aside, what don’t you like about the way your team has functioned so far?
We don’t put it all together yet. When we put it all together, I think we’ll all be happy. That’s what we’re waiting for.
What do you want to see from [Daniel] Bard next time and what does he have to do to establish himself as a very good starter in this league?
I think some of those ground balls have to be hit at infielders instead of finding the holes like they did. Once they’re caught and turned into double plays, they’re turned into outs, I think he’ll be on a roll.
Does he have potential to be an ace, to be a one or two? What does he have to do to be top-shelf?
To go from, “Let’s see if he’s a starter” to being the best in the league is a bit of a stretch. But I think he can build on what he did yesterday and become and guy that can start winning some games for us and keeping us in games, as he did yesterday. Then maybe build on being a top guy in the league because he does have top stuff. His slider is very good, his change-up yesterday was very good. His fastball, he was able to maintain his velocity right through the 100 pitch rank, and that’s his first time out. He has the makings of a pretty good pitcher.
Do you have a ratio for Bard with regards to the number of off-speed pitches and fastballs? Do you want a 50-50 percentage?
I think it’s more the individual pitcher and the lineup you’re facing. Some guys are a little better hitting the fastball. Daniel’s [fastball] is above 90 [mph], so you have to chart that a little differently. Some guys are able to sit on breaking balls, especially when they’re behind in the count. But I say 50-50, 60-40, we get up to that ratio a little as long as the mix is where he’s able to get ahead in the count with any one of his pitches and it’s not the same pitch always following a ball or the same pitch always following a strike.
Is it significant Bard threw most fastballs earlier in the game and more of his breaking balls later?
Most pitchers want to get out there and establish the fastball early in the game so they can then work off the hitters the next couple of times through the lineup as the hitter reacted to the fastball. That’s a standard game plan. It’s not necessarily the doctrine everyone lives by, but I think if you turn to page one of that pitchers’ manual, they say, “Hey, establish the fastball early and build off of it.”
Does a converted reliever like Bard have the ability late in the game to get a little bit more velocity in his pitches?
It seems like you can. Again, it’s not every reliever and you deal with the individuals and I’m just dealing with Daniel looking at him for the first time up close and personal here. It seemed like he had plenty left and as a matter of fact when I went up to the mound, he said, “I’ve got 25 more pitches, easily.” That’s good to know. I’ll put that in the data bank and we’ll see as we go from here.
What was your thought process in leaving Justin Thomas in the game, and do you regret doing it?
When the walk occurred, I had the chance to bring in [Matt] Albers who has that heavy sinker and I’m looking for a ground ball and the hitter, [J.P.] Arencibia, hits a ground ball 50 percent of the time against lefties and righties. But probably against the sinker, it would have been a little bit higher of a percentage.
Under the previous manager, guys knew when they were getting days off to mentally prepare. Have you ever done that and do you have a rule about it?
I don’t know if you do that the third game of the season [referring to Kevin Youkilis sitting]. But once you get into the swing of things and you have guys grinding it out five and six and seven days in a row, of course you always talk with guys and you say, “Hey, it might be a good time for a blow here or a good time to take a rest a day after tomorrow because we’ve got that left-hander and we’ll give you two days in a row.” That’s an easy conversation and I’ve always had them. This became a situation the third game of the season and I think that’s kind of a ridiculous conversation the third game of the season when you’re just trying to get everybody in the lineup.
What about hitting [Nick] Punto leadoff. As you know, everybody says he’s a .169 hitter leadoff. Obviously, you know that. Do you not care, or do you just weigh other things?
How did he do in that game leading off?
He got three hits.
But I’m talking before you take the field, you put him at leadoff.
I felt he was going to get a few hits.
Is that a hunch?
I don’t think he’s a .169 hitter.
But there’s other data I assume you’re looking at.
It was five games.
So, you think that’s not a big enough sample?
Well, I think a guy is more what he is than what five games tell you he is.
Is there a difference in value to a team in runs scored early vs. runs scored late. It seems like the Sox are scoring a lot of runs late. Would you prefer it to be early and set the tone of the game?
Well, this is 2012 and we really haven’t had a lead early. I’d like to see one of those things when I said coming together I think would be having the offense getting us some leads early so we could play with that game a little differently.
When we found out that your closer was going down and needed surgery, we asked a number of baseball people if losing your closer one minute before the season begins is a big blow and a big deal, 100 percent of them said yes. I assume you would agree with that?
It’s unsettling You like to have guys breathing easy when the season starts. I think it was just a little unsettling for the entire team. The offense didn’t know how many runs they were going to have to score, and the bullpen was a little uneasy as to when they were going to come into the game and actually who was going to come in in different places. I would say it was unsettling and it takes a little time to figure out.
What is your feeling on closers and pitching to contact? Do you think that’s overrated or irrelevant [to have a strikeout pitcher as a closer]?
No, I don’t know that anything’s overrated or irrelevant. You work with what you have. I’ve seen teams wins championships with guys who have the strikeout guy at the end, and I’ve seen guys who won championships with guys who strike them out half of the time instead of 60 or 70 percent of the time for their outs. It’s just what you have. I think every manager would like to have a guy that doesn’t put the ball in play and strikes everyone out. But I don’t think that many of us have those luxuries.
It seems to me that the most important thing would be getting Josh Beckett back to the form he was in in the midseason last year when he was among the Cy Young contenders, and not the Josh Beckett we saw in September — or we saw in his first start. Would you say that is the most important thing, or is there something else that is the key to you guys winning 95 and being in contention come September?
You have the starting staff, which is a very big component of the team, and the relief staff, and then the offense and the defense, and I think they’re all very important components of a team. Of course, Josh being one of the big guys on campus here, we’d like to see him straighten it out. A lot of times when you have your big guys pitching well, everything else falls into place.
Would you ever consider a six-man rotation?
I’ve used it a few times in the past in New York and a couple of times in Texas. The schedule has a lot to do with it, the availability of guys that can step in and do it. During those long stretches of games, where you’re playing 20 games in a row, if you feel that all five of your guys can use that one extra day’s rest. And of course, if you have the guy that can be a starter without depleting your bullpen staff, then I think it’s always a consideration.
When is a reasonable amount of time before fans can look down to Pawtucket and say, “Boy, that guy can help.” When do you start looking down to Pawtucket and saying, “Who could I bring up here for help?”
I think every day. I read the reports every day and try to figure out what this 25-man roster looks like and how it can be maximized, Ben [Cherington] and Mike Hazen and Brian [O'Halloran] are always looking at what the minor leagues look like and how everyone’s developing. And I think collectively Ben and I look at the 50-man roster between Pawtucket and Boston to figure out what’s the best group here.
I don’t think [Ryan] Lavarnway’s an option to be a guy off the bench. But I think he’s definitely an option when he’s ready to be a major league player to come up here and hit in the middle of our lineup and be a catcher for us. But he’s not quite ready to do that yet, according to all the reports I have.
So, when he’s ready he would come up and start?
I would think when he’s ready he would come up and play. He wouldn’t come up and be a bat off the bench.
And you would say I assume the same thing about [Jose] Iglesias — when he’s ready, he starts.
I would think he wouldn’t come up and be a backup shortstop. Not early in the season, for sure.
Callers and texters and tweeters have been pointing out the fact that there’s no ‘C’ on anybody’s jersey since [Jason] Varitek is gone. Your philosophy, your thoughts, your overview of wearing the ‘C’ — how valuable it is or not valuable at all.
I don’t know, it’s valuable with some teams, obviously. Most don’t have them. It’s whatever is needed with a particular group, and if there’s an individual who the group thinks should have some designation, then I think it’s a good thing. I haven’t really given it that much consideration here after four days. If it’s a need, we’ll definitely try to fill that need.
It’s one of those things that certain Red Sox fans obsess over — who’s going to be the captain.
It’s another good conversation. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think it’s silly. It’s just, I look across the field, I don’t see any ‘C’s on any of the other uniforms, I guess except for the pinstripe guys.
Yesterday we had your biggest fan, Karl Ravech, on. … He said to us that you and Curt Schilling hung out, got along great, were friendly when you were down there [at ESPN]. Why do you dismiss him and just say, “Consider the source.” Isn’t he a pretty astute baseball guy?
I think he knows a lot about baseball, and I did hang around with him a bit. I don’t think he knows anything about our team.
Is it do you think because of his affection for Terry Francona?
I have no idea. Why don’t you ask him? He’d probably be a good guest on your show.
Oh, he has been. He says he likes you, he’s a fan of yours, but he doesn’t think your style will work here. You just dismiss it as “Consider the course.” What’s wrong with the source?
You tell me.
You’re the one who said it. I don’t know. I think he’s a pretty good source.
Then it’s credible for you. It just wasn’t credible for me.
[Long silence] Next question, thank you.
Good luck, Bobby. We’ll see you Friday at Fenway Park.
You guys are great, thanks a lot.
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