David Ortiz joined the Red Sox before the 2003 season, and during his 14 years in Boston, only once did the club fail to win 70 games. That was 2012, when they went 69-93 and finished in last place in the AL East.
That 2012 season also happened to be the lone year Bobby Valentine managed the Red Sox. The club parted ways with Terry Francona following their embarrassing September collapse in 2011, and ownership felt the more outspoken and old school Valentine would fire everyone up. It didn't work. It was a disaster.
In his upcoming autobiography, Papi: My Story, Ortiz pulls no punches. He rips Valentine and more or less blames the club's miserable season on the manager. Here's part of the excerpt from SI.com:
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."
Without a doubt, it was the worst season of my career. Each day, nothing got better. Not my separation from (my wife Tiffany), and not the tense and irrational atmosphere that Bobby created in the clubhouse. As a team, we had some weeks when it would look like we were turning a corner. Our manager, though, couldn't help himself. He kept getting in the way.
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.
Ortiz said he and several other Red Sox veterans held meetings with Valentine to try to smooth things over, but it didn't help. He also stopped several players from demanding Valentine be fired early in the season.
Valentine responded to Ortiz's criticism during an appearance on the "Tiki and Tierney Show" on CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network on Thursday. Here's what Valentine had to say about Ortiz believing the Red Sox were "going to have an absolutely terrible year" in spring training 2012:
"Well, I wish he told me three weeks into the season instead of hugging me all the time when he saw me! Yeah, that was a weird situation. I don't know how it could have been about me in spring training, but I've heard a lot of those general comments. But whatever. I hope he sells a lot of books. I hope I help him sell some."
You can listen to the interview here:
Nagging foot and Achilles injuries limited Ortiz to only 90 games during that 2012 season, the fewest of his 14 seasons with the Red Sox. Valentine was let go after the season and replaced by John Farrell, who guided the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series championship.