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Epstein's status not a talking point

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By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / October 1, 2011

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Flanked by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino at a press conference last night at Fenway Park, Theo Epstein shifted uncomfortably in his seat when his bosses were asked if they would grant another team permission to speak with their general manager.

“We’re not prepared to answer that question here,’’ Lucchino said. “This press conference is about the contributions Tito [Francona] made to this franchise.’’

Werner quickly interjected, “We feel, collectively, that Theo is one of the best general managers in baseball and we feel he’s been integral to our success throughout the last eight years.’’

Although there have been reports the Cubs might be interested in speaking with Epstein, the Sox GM said he was fully prepared to move forward with the responsibility of finding Francona’s successor.

“We’ll use the same process that we used eight years ago when we identified and hired Tito,’’ Epstein said.

“Going back, looking back at that process eight years ago, we hired the right guy and he did a remarkable job and this organization is forever changed because of the job he did.’’

Asked if managerial experience in the major leagues would be a prerequisite for candidates, Epstein said, “It’s preferred, but I don’t want to be in a position to put any formal prerequisites on the job.

“Experience is important. If we found a perfect candidate who hadn’t happened to have a manager’s job before in the big leagues, I think we feel we could look past that.’’

Lucchino chimed in that it was premature to answer the question, because “we never anticipated being in this exact position’’ of having to search for a manager.

Asked what he had learned about the nature of the manager’s job in Boston over the last eight years, Epstein seemed to take a playful jab at Francona.

“What I’ve learned about the manager’s job of the Boston Red Sox is that it can make you lose your hair,’’ Epstein said. “It’s a tough job and in some ways there’s so many constituencies that you deal with and they all expect a lot of your time and your full devotion.

“I think the interest of some of those constituencies clash at times. And so you have to be a master handler of people, you have to have strong principles, and you have to have self-awareness and be secure enough in your own abilities that you’re not looking for validation from any external sources.

“You have to know that what you’re doing is the right thing and in the end the process is good enough, and the people you surround yourself [with] is good enough that the results will show up in the end. I think Tito was fantastic in all of those areas.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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