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Valentine not a big promoter of captaincy

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 23, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - With Jason Varitek on the verge of announcing his retirement, the Red Sox will lose more than a catcher. They also will be without their captain, Varitek having held that position for seven years.

Manager Bobby Valentine has no plans to name a successor.

“I hadn’t planned on that,’’ he said. “If the team thinks a captain’s a cool thing, I think that could be considered. I don’t think a captain is necessary. I don’t know that it’s so necessary you can’t live without it.’’

As Valentine pointed out, the Cardinals managed to win the World Series without a captain. In fact, only the Yankees (Derek Jeter) and White Sox (Paul Konerko) have captains at this point.

Before Varitek, the Red Sox didn’t have a captain for 15 years.

Valentine wants more teamwide leadership this season, encouraging several players to set good examples or be more accountable for their actions.

If the Red Sox were to choose a captain, second baseman Dustin Pedroia might be the choice. But he seems to have little interest in the title.

“I don’t even think about that stuff,’’ he said.

Pedroia weighs in

After spending Tuesday shooting commercials, Pedroia took the field with his teammates yesterday.

“I’m excited to go play again,’’ he said. “Last year, the end was tough, but we have to regroup together and come out and play good baseball year long.’’

Pedroia had a close relationship with former manager Terry Francona and perhaps more than any other player will have adjustments to make.

“It’s different,’’ he said. “It’s the only thing I’ve known. Things change. It’s tough to see him go, especially the way it ended. He’ll always be a close friend whatever he chooses to do going forward. I’m pulling for him.’’

His take on Valentine?

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I’ve been here a day and a half. I’ve met him a couple of times. From what I hear, he is thinking about baseball nonstop and thinking about fundamentals and getting this team where it needs to be. It’s going to be exciting.’’

Pedroia said the only way for the team to get past the collapse and embarrassment of 2011 is to play well.

“That’s basically it,’’ he said. “I don’t have answers to what went on last year. Last year is over. It was tough. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it.

“You have to try to turn the page and not think about it and play well and play for your teammates.’’

Veteran’s day

With Tim Wakefield retiring and Varitek no longer with the team, 36-year-old David Ortiz is now the longest-tenured member of the team. He said it was “weird’’ to walk in the clubhouse and not see them. “I talked to Wake the other day,’’ said Ortiz. “We had a good conversation. I think he’s happy with what he did. I told him I was very happy being his teammate as long as we were together. Wake is a first-class guy. He always had a lot of good things to bring to our ball club on a daily basis. We had a long conversation.’’ Ortiz has a message out to Varitek. Asked how it felt to be the oldest player on the team, Ortiz said with a laugh, “Not good.’’

Pitcher was a hit

One of Valentine’s friends, former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden, was on hand to watch yesterday’s workout. As Rhoden and Valentine chatted in one of the practice field dugouts, Valentine turned to the crowd and said, “Hey, folks, say hello to Rick Rhoden, one of the greatest righthanded hitters who ever lived!’’ Never mind that Rhoden won 151 games over 16 seasons. Nonetheless, the fans applauded. Rhoden hit .238 in his career with nine home runs and 75 RBIs and was a three-time Silver Slugger winner.

Swing away

Carl Crawford took some swings in the cage for the second straight day and said there was no pain in his left wrist . . . After slapping a few balls in the dirt during batting practice, Ortiz turned to the fans and said, “If I don’t start hitting bombs, I’m going back to the fried chicken.’’ . . . Righthander Ross Ohlendorf went through fielding drills at half speed because of a sore back. He expects to be fully cleared by today or tomorrow . . . Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, on crutches after ankle surgery, was on hand to watch.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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