CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Ben Cherington has said since he took over as general manager that retaining free agent designated hitter David Ortiz was a priority for the Red Sox.
How much of a priority became abundantly clear when Bobby Valentine strolled into the Fishing Lodge resort here tonight in search of Ortiz.
Installed as the manager of the Sox on Thursday afternoon, Valentine was on the go less than 24 hours later to visit Ortiz and help support his charity golf event.
“That speaks to me,” Ortiz said, tapping his heart with his fist. “I’m impressed. That’s good stuff.”
Valentine did not arrive with a contract offer but wanted to make it clear to Ortiz how much he wanted him back on the team. He greeted Ortiz with a hug and a big slap on the back.
“I wouldn’t miss it. I was able to catch a flight and come on down,” Valentine said. “We’ll have a little fun tonight, say hello and tell him how much I love him as a player.”
Prior to last night, Ortiz’s relationship with Valentine was limited to occasional conversations over the last few years when the new manager worked for ESPN.
“I only respect him and know him from afar,” Valentine said. “Getting to know him is going to be fun. … I’ve seen his individual talents and he’s a game-changer. There are 30 teams that would want David Ortiz in the lineup and we’re one of them and I’m one of the guys who would definitely like to have him there.”
Valentine also spoke to Tim Wakefield at the event. Like Ortiz, he is a free agent. Before he saw Ortiz, Valentine pulled Wakefield off to the side for a conversation.
Valentine quickly became the center of attention at the dinner function he attended, shaking hands with players from other teams and posing for photographs. Ortiz’s marketing agent, Alex Radetsky, invited Valentine to the event and he was quick to accept.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Valentine said. “I feel like it’s almost like studying for college exams again, pulling the all-nighters.”
Valentine will return to his home in Connecticut tomorrow then travel to Dallas on Sunday. The new manager of the Red Sox, it seems, is indefatigable.
“It’s pretty good that he came all the way here,” Ortiz said. “Like I said, good stuff.”