Valentine already tweaking the Yankees

Bobby Valentine has only been wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform
for about two weeks and he’s already taking a few jabs at the
archrival New York Yankees.

Many thought that the outspoken manager’s arrival in Boston
could add even more spice to one of the most heated rivalries in
professional sports, and it hasn’t taken long for that to hold
true.

In one fell swoop on Tuesday, Valentine said Derek Jeter didn’t
need to make the flip-to-home relay that stands as one of the most
celebrated plays in Yankees lore and fondly recalled when retired
Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek ”beat up Alex” Rodriguez in
2004.

The Red Sox were working on relay throws at spring training on
Tuesday and Valentine was asked about one of the most famous relay
plays in all of baseball in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS between the
Yankees and Athletics.

Down 2-0 in the series and with a 1-0 lead in the seventh
inning, Yankees right fielder Shane Spencer missed the cutoff man
on a double by Terrence Long. That’s when Derek Jeter seemingly
came out of nowhere to grab the overthrow in foul territory near
the first baseline and flipped the ball home to get Jeremy Giambi
at the plate.

The Yankees hung on in the game, and rallied to win the
series.

”We’ll never practice that,” Valentine said. ”And I think
(Jeter) was out of position and I think the ball gets (Giambi) out
if he doesn’t touch it, personally.”

Most observers credit Jeter’s hustle and instincts with turning
around the series in the Yankees’ favor. And several Yankees have
said that Jeter would practice that play in spring training, which
drew a scoff from Valentine.

”That was amazing that he was there,” Valentine said. ”Then
it was more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe
it.”

But Valentine wasn’t finished there.

Even though he is just starting to put his finger prints on the
organization, Valentine was asked to comment on Varitek’s 15
seasons in Boston and what he meant to the organization. Like many
others, Valentine used Varitek’s confrontation with Rodriguez in a
July 2004 game to sum up his mentality and his demeanor.

Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo drew Rodriguez’s ire when he
plunked A-Rod in the game. After Rodriguez started cursing at
Arroyo, Varitek came to his pitcher’s defense by shoving his
catcher’s mitt into the third baseman’s face, sparking the benches
to clear. The Sox came back and won the game 11-10 and went on to
win the World Series that season.

Valentine was nowhere near Fenway Park that day, but that didn’t
stop him from giving the decision to Varitek.

”He is a man’s man,” Valentine said of Varitek. ”He was a big
hitter when needed. He was a leader of the pitching staff. He was
able to beat up Alex. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly
what he was supposed to be.”

The rivalry will be renewed when the two teams meet in spring
training on March 13. Their first series of the regular season will
begin April 20 at Fenway.

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