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Joe Girardi, Bobby Valentine have different styles

Joe Girardi looks on during batting practice prior

Joe Girardi looks on during batting practice prior to their game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. (June 12, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

BOSTON

Lost in the concocted "I hate the Yankees" controversy from December's winter meetings at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas was a scene from earlier in the day.

On the way into the managers' luncheon, Bobby Valentine came up to his new rival and threw an arm around a pair of broad shoulders.

"I've always loved you, Joe," Valentine said with a mile-wide smile to Joe Girardi. "But I hate you now."

Girardi chuckled. The two shook hands, exchanged some brief well-wishes and went on their way.

Later in the afternoon, Valentine -- tongue lodged firmly in cheek -- said, "I hate the Yankees" to a large group of reporters, about 99.9 percent of whom laughed along with the bombastic manager.

The scenes were telling in their own way, though not in adding the "spice" to the sport's biggest rivalry that most predicted Valentine inevitably would. (Two dashes of that, of course, came during spring training.)

It demonstrated, if it was not already glaringly apparent, the vast difference in the managers' personalities.

Girardi and Valentine's predecessor, Terry Francona, operated from a similar "say little in public" playbook, especially when it came to the rivalry.

It's difficult to imagine Girardi using a profanity and it's almost as difficult to visualize him using the word "hate," even in jest.

Maybe that's why Girardi seemed more perplexed than upset during spring training when Valentine tweaked Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

"I just worry about my own team," Girardi said more than once when he was asked every which way to respond to Valentine's remarks.

Girardi was a little more vexed a few weeks later when Valentine accused him of lacking "courtesy" after a spring training tie. The Red Sox tied the score at 4 in the bottom of the ninth and Girardi didn't send his team out for the 10th, saying he was out of pitching.

The following day, after Valentine's barbed criticisms were presented to him, Girardi shrugged.

"I have to worry about our club and keeping our club healthy and not putting people in bad situations,'' Girardi said. "And he has to do the same thing for his club. As I said before, I'm going to worry about our guys.''

This week's Valentine/Kevin Youkilis tiff might be the best illustration of the difference.

"I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Valentine said of the struggling third baseman during a local television interview.

The rebukes came from far and wide, most pointedly from Valentine's own clubhouse, with Dustin Pedroia taking the lead.

Valentine employed similar tactics in his previous major league managerial stops -- with the Rangers and Mets -- and players in both places responded to the public proddings at times. But the Red Sox (4-8) have yet to do so, and bring a three-game losing streak into this weekend's series against the Yankees.

That kind of controversy happening on Girardi's watch?

There's a better chance of Newt Gingrich doing another commercial with Nancy Pelosi.

This, after all, is a manager who wouldn't publicly reprimand A.J. Burnett two seasons ago when the righthander cut his hand by slamming both hands into a pair of clubhouse doors after a bad start. Per his custom, Girardi addressed the matter privately, a significant reason he has backing in the clubhouse. Players know the manager always has their back.

"I just think for me when I address a player, I want to address him face-to-face because I want to know what he feels. I think it's important that they have input because maybe what you're thinking might not be the whole story," Girardi said earlier this week, speaking generally about his philosophy and not specifically about Valentine and Youkilis. "Maybe there's something going on . . . And I think it's important that they hear it from you so it's a conversation, and then nothing can be misinterpreted."

Girardi understands that managers and coaches will use the media to send messages, but it's not his style and won't be.

"People have used the media as a way to sometimes get through to players or to motivate players," he said, "but that's just not my way to do it."

Girardi's approach has worked for him with the Yankees. For Valentine in Boston, there's no verdict yet.

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