Bobby Valentine spoke at Salem State University last night as part of a speaker’s series. Peter Gammons was the moderator and audience questions were taken. Some highlights from CSNNewEngland.com:
- The front office wanted “a quieter, calmer” version of Bobby Valentine during the season, so he was told to tone down his usually effusive comments to the press;
- He’s happy about his future and thinks it is bright. “I have a million plans, running around the country, trying to make my life worthwhile,” he said. Most immediate plan: “In December, he will rappel down the side of the tallest building in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., as a charitable fundraiser. He will be dressed as an elf.” Brian Cashman has done this several times, actually. It’s for a good cause.
- He doesn’t think the 2012 Red Sox should be defined by their record and believes that “the team is going to be better because of all the nonsense this year.”
- Takes a swipe at Kelly Shoppach, who he said was always begging for playing time and the front office, whose attitude and leaks he criticizes, and Daniel Bard. Also, when asked by an audience member what it was like to watch Daniel Bard “slowly implode,” Valentine said “you you thought that was slow?”
Someone should probably hire him now. Not my team or the team of anyone I care about, but someone.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”