FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz was asked whether the team’s moves to acquire a number of players considered to have excellent clubhouse makeup was a reflection of an issue in the team’s character of a year ago. Ortiz…targeted not his former teammates but instead former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “You know, a lot of players have a lot of issues with our manager last year…. sometimes you get confused and you get caught in a situation where you don’t know how you’re going to react to things.”… Ortiz painted the picture of a team that struggled with a manager who seemingly wanted to reinvent the wheel in 2012. He cited what he viewed as unusual spring training drills as an example, suggesting that some of Valentine’s drills led to an atmosphere of discomfort even before the start of the regular season. “Last year in spring training, just to give an example, when we were doing the workouts, I started seeing things that I had never seen in baseball, since I’ve been playing baseball,” said Ortiz. “… We were doing drills, some game-changing things. For example, we were talking earlier today, we were practicing cutoffs and relays. The throw coming in from the outfielder, the second baseman and the shortstop had to go two feet away from the outfielder, cut off the ball and make the throw to home plate… Those are things that you see it, the following year you try to fix it and try to go back to the basics.”

Spring Training 2013 is right on schedule.  John Henry is saying he’s not distracted by Liverpool FC and Roush Racing, shooting the messenger on Francona’s book, and lying through his little baby teeth about not having read it.  Jon Lester sounds more like Josh Beckett every day, saying he’s proud of his 9-14 season because a lot of those losses weren’t his fault and he did his job.  The beat writers are doing glowing articles about John Lackey saying he’s in the best shape of his life, tanned, rested and ready to be an Ace.   Pedroia and Ellsbury’s plane got hit by lightning.  And they’re already starting to scapegoat Bobby V for the shitshow that was last season.  Everything is transpiring exactly as I thought it would.  (OK, except for the lightning thing; I did not see that coming.)  You knew these guys were going to pin 2012 entirely on Valentine.  It’s like Bill Parcells always used to say: If you give guys an excuse to lose, they’ll take it every time.  And Valentine gave them the perfect alibi.  Ooh, our manager is a nutjob.  He does things different.  His cutoff drills are weird and we’ve never seen them before so we’re going to get fat and spend six months playing like garbage.  I don’t suppose anyone in the throng of reporters standing around Ortiz bothered to ask him why he and his teammates didn’t just suck it up and win anyway.  To you know, earn the millions they’re being paid.  Or for the sake of the 37,000 people in the stands paying the highest prices in the game.  Or ask him why, if it was all Valentine’s fault,  they flat out quit on the previous manager, whom they all claim to love and who bent over backwards to give them everything they wanted.  Including good old-fashioned traditional cutoff drills.  But I guess I’m expecting too much.  So yes, so far the new season is unfolding exactly as we had ever reason to expect it would, with everyone claiming last year’s train wreck is all on the guy who got fired and they’re all blameless.  The only thing that surprises me is that it took a whole day for someone to say it.  @JerryThornton1