Red Sox legend David Ortiz has some harsh words for his former manager Bobby Valentine in Ortiz’s new autobiography “Papi: My Story”

When David Ortiz was playing with the Boston Red Sox, it was a golden time in the team’s history. They won two World Series and won at least 90 games nine times.

The worst season in that stretch was 2012. They won 69 games and finished in last place in the American League East.

It was a year the team wanted to start over. In September 2011, they were ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games for the wild card, but lost 18 of their final 24 games to miss the playoffs. They fired manager Terry Francona and hired Bobby Valentine.

This terrible season, according to Ortz’s new book Papi: My Story written by Ortiz with former Boston Globe columnist Michael Holley, was Valentine’s fault. Ortiz says from spring training the team could tell they were in for a difficult year. From an excerpt on

The drama began almost immediately in spring training. I remember fighting the thought, very early, We’re going to have an absolutely terrible year.

It was all about him in the spring. It was as if he wanted to prove how smart he was by running us through all these drills he’d used while managing in Japan, drills we had never done before. Bobby was in his own bubble, and I just wanted to get him out of it and tell him, “F— you.”

He asked for a lot of changes, including some that were completely unnecessary. One of the more ridiculous ones was having players hit grounders to each other. I thought that was funny, especially for me. The Red Sox weren’t paying me to hit grounders; I was there to hit balls to the moon.

The problem was not that his drills were new. The bigger issue was how he expected players who had been in the big leagues a long time to immediately do things his way without any missteps. There had been a lot of conversations about our team the year before and how our lack of accountability led to our September collapse. Maybe Bobby was told to come in and boss around full-grown men. Maybe the Red Sox wanted to hire a daddy, not a manager.

I was competitive enough to think that we could win a bunch of games despite Bobby’s ego. It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d been too optimistic. And when I say not long, I mean the first series of the season. We opened in Detroit and were swept by the Tigers. It was impossible to ignore the comments from my teammates about Bobby’s managing, how he made decisions that didn’t make sense and how generally clueless and distant he was. 

Without a doubt, it was the worst season of my career. The simplest way I can put it is that he didn’t treat people well. He didn’t get a chance to hire all his own coaches, and I think he held it against the coaches themselves. He even called a meeting, with the entire team, and accused his coaches of backstabbing him.

Eventually, in July, we all collapsed.

Valentine, who is now the athletic director for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., was a guest on the CBS radio show Tiki and Tierney Thursday.

When asked if he had read what Ortiz had written about him, Valentine said, “Huh? No, what happened? Oh God, David Ortiz, no I haven’t. I thought David retired.”

The hosts told Valentine that Ortiz had written a book and Valentine responded, “Nice! And I’m in it? Wow, all right!”

The hosts assured Valentine it wasn’t anything favorable and read some of the excerpts on the air. Valentine responded, “I wish he had told me three weeks into the season instead of hugging me all the time when he saw me. That was a weird situation, and I don’t know how it could’ve been about me in spring training in Fort Myers. But I’ve heard a lot of those general comments. But … whatever. I hope he sells a lot of books and you know, I’ve been in president’s books, hall of famer’s books and another future hall of famer. I hope I can help him sell some.

“Hey, if he hated me from the first day, he fooled me. I always liked him. I thought it was a wonderful relationship with me and him. The first day I was there, I did my press conference and the next morning I flew down to the Dominican Republic to represent the team at his golf tournament. I thought from that day on, things were really good.”

GALLERY: Highlights from David Ortiz’s career 


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