ESPN's Tim Kurkjian joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday to offer his thoughts about Red Sox spring training. New manager Bobby Valentine has come in and made some changes in the team's approach to the preseason, and Kurkjian said that some of those changes haven't been as well-received by all the players.
"I think he's doing the right thing. I think it's something that he has to do," Kurkjian said. "Overall, it's going just OK, from what I can see. My warning -- if that's the right term -- to all the Red Sox players is, Bobby Valentine is first and foremost a teacher. He is not going to allow somebody to say something or, more important, do something incorrectly and then get away with it. Bobby is going to correct them no matter who they are, and it's going to be done his way.
"When I say that, trust me when I tell you this: His way is the right way. He's going to teach them the way to get a secondary lead, how to do cutoffs and relays, and if they don't listen to him, he's going to keep harping on it. And the teaching is not going to end in spring training. It is going to go through the rest of the season. All Red Sox fans and players should understand that this is going to continue, and yet they will never -- never -- be outfoxed in a game as long as Bobby Valentine is managing."
Asked to further explain his comment that "it's going just OK," Kurkjian said: "That's what I sense, is that the players didn't know what to make of Bobby yet. And Bobby didn't know what to make of the Red Sox system yet. Now, this is probably all normal and natural for a guy who's coming in making some changes, hasn't managed in the major leagues in 10 years. All of this is expected.
"And yet, I think it's been even more confusing for some of the players, like, 'Why are we doing this?' I'm telling you, though, eventually, whether it's late in spring training or that game in early May, they're going to look back and say, 'That's why we did that in spring training. We just got an out on a play because we were prepared for it.' Bobby will have them prepared for everything. And again, if they don't like it, I don't think he cares about that. He's going to get it right, no matter what. Even is some of the players are wondering, 'What are we doing here?' "
Outfielder Carl Crawford is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 season, his first in Boston after signing as a free agent. Kurkjian said he does not have high expectations.
"I'm hopelessly positive about things, but I don't think he's in the right place right now -- not meaning Boston. I mean, I think at this point he's going to have a similar year to last year, as opposed to those really good years in Tampa Bay," Kurkjian said. "As we know, this guy's all about comfort, he's all about trust. At least that's what the Rays people have told me. And if he's not comfortable and he doesn't trust the people around him -- meaning all the people around him -- he's not going to be the player that he needs to be.
"I didn't sense from spring training that he was in the right place mentally. He is going to have to be if he's going to be a different player than last year. You guys saw it: He was tentative in the outfield. He was tentative on the bases. Nobody that fast should be stealing [only] 18 bases in a season. And he didn't swing the bat like he did in Tampa Bay, either. He is crucial to this team being a really good team. One through six in this order should be the best in the American League, but only if he's the 2 hitter and the Carl Crawford from Tampa Bay. And I'm not sure he's that guy right now."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On the difference in Valentine's managerial style from his rookie season to now: "He's just smarter certainly than he was back then. He was young, he was impulsive, and even though he still believes he's the smartest guy in the room, now he has a more diplomatic way of going about explaining that. So, even though he'll yell at a player now and show some frustration, he has grown up to the point to understand that the players have changed dramatically from 1985 to 2012, and that dealing with the players is now -- he has to be more than just a teacher, he has to be a master psychologist to figure out, 'How am I going to get the best out of these guys?' That's what I think he's learned. And this thought that he's going to come in and just push everybody around, that simply is not going to happen. He's going to push, but when he realizes, 'If I push this guy too hard he's not going to respond,' that's what Bobby has learned in the last 27 years."
On shortstop Jose Iglesias: "I don't think he's going to be the starting shortstop. That's certainly not what I gathered with my one day [at spring training] with the Red Sox -- that he's going to Triple-A and he needs to work on what he can do at the plate. With this lineup you would think you could flip him in there, tell him to hit .190 and we're going to be fine. But at the same time, he needs some more seasoning. And that's why Mike Aviles is there. That's why Nick Punto is there."
Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Rob Bradford is joined by Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox pitcher who so many are wondering if he will be able to live up the value placed on him by the Red Sox when trading away top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last July. Pomeranz goes into detail regarding his injury last season, the stem cell treatment he underwent in the offseason, and how he thinks things stand heading into the 2017 campaign.
Rob Bradford is joined by Tom Caron, the man responsible for guiding the ship when it comes to Red Sox pregame and postgame shows, along with various other important duties with the New England Sports Network, including offering the play-by-play for both TV and radio throughout spring training. Tom and Rob discuss a variety of topics, such as nickname conundrums, radio vs. television, criticizing the team, behind-the-scenes for the broadcasts and where the industry is going.
Rob Bradford is joined by two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox this spring. Quentin's path back to baseball involves almost quitting the game less than a year ago, losing 40 pounds and trying to sell himself to general managers all over Major League Baseball. Quentin explains his journey, which has led him to the back fields at JetBlue Park.
Hour 4. Trenni, Kirk, and Gerry discuss the upcoming Red Sox season. Michael Irvin is being investigated for sexual assault, again. Renee Graham, from the Globe, thinks Michael Che is right about Boston being racist.
Hour 3. Trenni battles Gerry on immigration. Joe Mixon’s future is discussed. Curtis will get a second chance at music trivia on Friday.
Hour 2. Trenni, Gerry, and Kirk discuss Joe Mixon’s draft chances. A horrible hazing story from Texas is the topic in headlines. Keefe responded to Kirk (kind of).
HOUR 4 - The guys talked about Tuukka's rebound game last night against the Predators, Glenn had a squirrel moment when ESPN started talking about Joe Mixon, Tom Brady was compared to Kobe Bryant, and Holley says the Celtics can win the title.
HOUR 3 - Did Butler's camp screw up Butler's situation? Glenn exposes one of Fauria's verbal crutches. The guys try to come up with some new podcast names and ideas.
HOUR 2 - Fauria struggles to read the "Trending Now." Dave Dombrowski is getting defensive about the fact that all his free agent pitching acquisitions are getting injured. Hanley forgets which shoulder he hurt 2 years ago. Lou loses it when John Farrell makes up some new baseball lingo.
We finish the show with the best sound of the day.
Holley and Keefe discuss Tom Brady's future and if it's possible to see Brady playing for 6-7 more years.
Dale, Holley, and Keefe discuss the Hernandez trial and then address Malcolm Butler and the Patriot off season decisions.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
SI's Richard Deitsch returns to the podcast to talk with Kirk about the K&C casting couch, how ESPN wimps out when they are called out for slander, what's going on with Bill Simmons, and the rise of podcasting.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis have the Tuesday & Wednesday recap from the K&C show, including Kirk's epic rant at Dale & Holley with Keefe.
Rich Keefe is joined by Dale Arnold and Ben Kichen to preview WrestleMania 33. Is it a good card? What will be the best match? Plus Ryan Davey is in for "This Week in #DORK" with a look a couple new trailers and the always great "Black Panther Reads #DORK iTunes Reviews."
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill go over the difficulties of staying healthy through the long grind of the playoffs in the NBA and in the NHL.
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