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He’ll manage to be entertaining

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / December 2, 2011
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Bobby Valentine will finally give us an interesting person as the face of the Red Sox. He will be baseball’s version of Bill Parcells, and his press conferences will be must-see TV.

He will tell stories. He will be emotional, just as he was when he was introduced yesterday as manager, when his eyes welled up because he was so grateful for the chance.

Afterward, Valentine spoke about why he chose No. 25, which once belonged to Tony Conigliaro and Mike Lowell in Boston.

“There is a group of numbers that were available,’’ said Valentine. “I don’t think 2 [his old number] was available [because of Jacoby Ellsbury], neither was 22, which was my second thought. And I knew 25 really as Tony C’s number.

“I might have been his last roommate, and I think I was. He was trying to make a little comeback when I was with the Padres, and I had such admiration for him.

“We both got beaned. And we talked about it. I never was able to really talk to someone about that, when that ball slows down right there right before the impact.

“And it’s a lousy conversation, but I was able to talk to him about it, and it was a bonding kind of thing.

“I saw that [25] was available. I called Mike Lowell. I should have called Billy [Conigliaro] and I couldn’t get his number real quickly, and I know that a lot of people wanted to retire it in his honor.

“And I would gladly put it up on that wall rather than on my back. But I think it’s a great number to wear.’’

With Valentine, what you see is what you get. He will tell it like it is and tell it as honestly as he can.

Red Sox ownership got this right. It might have been in a roundabout way, it might have been methodical, and there might be the perception that it wasn’t Ben Cherington’s call - though ownership and Cherington insisted yesterday that it was.

But in the end, Red Sox Nation needed toughness, credibility, and excitement, and they got it in Valentine.

If this was Cherington’s decision, then the new general manager deserves a lot of credit for coming around to a traditional, experienced manager who probably didn’t register on his radar at first.

Certainly, Cherington was nudged by Larry Lucchino, John Henry, and Tom Werner to at least meet Valentine and get to know him. If Cherington didn’t want him, according to Henry, Valentine would not have been at the podium yesterday.

I asked Henry, straight out: If Cherington had kicked and screamed about not wanting Valentine, is it safe to assume it wouldn’t have happened?

“Absolutely,’’ Henry said. “We told Ben from the beginning that this was going to be his choice. But with a decision this big, one that we last made eight years ago, we felt we had wanted input.

“It was a slow, methodical process, but I know from the outset, when we knew Terry Francona was not returning, that Bobby was going to be one of our candidates.

“I think Larry has known Bobby the longest, but I’ve known Bobby for a long time. I think this was a collaborative process, but once Ben met with Bobby and interviewed him and got to know him, we were all on the same page.’’

An interesting question many have asked is, would Theo Epstein have come to the same conclusion?

Epstein had already assembled a list of candidates before he finally left for Chicago, and it was similar to Cherington’s. But nowhere on that list was the name of Bobby Valentine.

The popular refrain from Sox ownership and management is that they needed to view Valentine differently than the others.

Whatever the scenario, Valentine said he didn’t believe any of it would happen until he received an e-mail from Cherington Tuesday when he was in Japan. The offer was made to manage the Red Sox.

Valentine accepted a two-year deal with team options for 2014 and ’15 at slightly less than $3 million per season, according to team sources.

“I think my response time was about 20 minutes,’’ he said. “Yeah, and there was no counter-offer that I asked for. So I was very comfortable. Let it be known, I would have taken one.’’

Valentine said he would have been at peace if he never managed again.

“When I wake up, as you know, I work out,’’ he said. “When I work out, I make a plan. I’m going to do something good and exciting that day.

“I was doing good and exciting things. There were a lot of different things I was doing and I was getting paid to do things a couple days a week at a king’s ransom. So, how can you not be happy with that situation? Did I dream about this situation? Absolutely.

“I keep coming up with the word special. It’s the most different day of my life. I’ve never experienced this.’’

Valentine was asked what about him hadn’t changed in the last nine years since his last game as a major league manager.

“I don’t know, the core stuff,’’ he said. “I haven’t managed a game on a losing side for a long time and I could tell you that I’m going to hate it when we lose. I don’t think that’s going to change any.

“I’m going to love all those firsts. I’m big on firsts. I think as I was sitting there - and I’m going to say it, and you guys could say, ‘Well, that’s really corny - but guys who covered me, when a guy got a first hit, I said, ‘Boy, that’s special.’ ’’

Valentine said he did not receive any texts or well wishes from his new players, but, “I would expect that. Players don’t do that anyway. They’re out doing their thing and getting ready for the season.’’

Valentine said he would reach out to all the players. He was asked about Josh Beckett, given that Beckett was in the middle of the controversy at the end of the season.

“Yes I will [reach out] and get a conversation started,’’ he said.

Valentine had been critical of Beckett as an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball’’ for the time he takes between pitches.

“Now the things I say on TV I’ll be able to say to them personally,’’ Valentine said.

Oh, he will.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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