FORT MYERS, Fla. — During a conversation about his impression of the moves made by the Red Sox  this offseason, designated hitter David Ortiz  was asked whether the team’s moves to acquire a number of players considered to have excellent clubhouse makeup was a reflection of an issue in the team’s character of a year ago. Ortiz, who described the 2012 campaign as the most frustrating of his career based on the team’s struggles and his inability to help while injured, targeted not his former teammates but instead former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine .
“You know, a lot of players have a lot of issues with our manager last year. 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 ],” said Ortiz. “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. 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 painted the picture of a team that struggled with a manager who seemingly wanted to reinvent the wheel in 2012. He cited what he viewed as unusual spring training drills as an example, suggesting that some of Valentine’s drills led to an atmosphere of discomfort even before the start of the regular season.
“Last year in spring training, just to give an example, when we were doing the workouts, I started seeing things that I had never seen in baseball, since I’ve been playing baseball,” said Ortiz. “I’ve been watching baseball and playing baseball for a long time. So I had question marks for those things that I saw last year. Those question marks went into the season, and you guys saw the disaster that happened to us last year. Now you’re going back to seeing the things that you are used to. Baseball is a game that is a little complicated. When you start to add things to that, me personally, I don’t think things get any better. It just gets worse. Hopefully that’s not the case now.
“We were doing drills, some game-changing things. For example, we were talking earlier today, we were practicing cutoffs and relays. The throw coming in from the outfielder, the second baseman and the shortstop had to go two feet away from the outfielder, cut off the ball and make the throw to home plate, giving the runner the extra step. Why don’t you just have the outfielder throwing the ball all the way through and try to get the guy out at home plate? I don’t remember us getting any runner out at home plate with that play. That was new for me.
“I saw guys hitting the cutoff man, being 20 feet away from the infield. So you’re going to tell me as an outfielder, you can’t throw the ball to home plate when you’re 20 feet from the infielder?” he continued. “Those are the things, I think, that didn’t make the games any better. If as an outfielder, you’re going to approach the ball and you already know that you’ve got to hit the guy that’s 20 feet away from you, then you’re going to walk away from strength. That’s what I think. That’s a different baseball game than the one I grew up watching and playing. Little things like that happened. Everybody has their reasons to do it. But it’s a different game than the one we grew up watching.
“Those are things that you see it, the following year you try to fix it and try to go back to the basics.”