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Cherington is making his list

Search for a manager kicks into next gear

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 27, 2011

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The Red Sox have not had a manager for four weeks now, Terry Francona having left Fenway Park Sept. 30.

Making up a list of candidates to fill that vacancy has taken up much of Ben Cherington’s time since. Now that he is officially the general manager, that process will start to move forward. It will begin with the Red Sox requesting permission to interview candidates from other organizations.

“We’ve done a lot of due diligence over the last couple of weeks,’’ Cherington said. “One of the benefits behind the uncertainty is we could work behind the scenes and do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions of potential candidates, so we’ve narrowed a list down to a probable first group of interviews.’’

Cherington did not get specific about how many candidates he planned to bring in, describing the pool as “a handful’’ of people.

To this point, more is known about who the next manager won’t be. The Red Sox have not shown any interest in Bobby Valentine, the ESPN analyst and former manager. There will be no luring Joe Torre away from his well-paid job with Major League Baseball or Lou Piniella out of retirement.

Bench coach DeMarlo Hale remains under contract and is well-respected within the organization. But there are no indications the Sox will consider any internal candidates to replace Francona.

Also, do not expect the Red Sox to overreact to the clubhouse problems that were revealed after the season by hiring a disciplinarian-type manager. Larry Bowa, Wally Backman, Don Baylor and their like are old-schoolers who would not fit in an organization that considers itself cutting-edge.

What matters to Cherington is winning, not the ability to post a set of rules.

Major league managerial experience does not seem to be a quality Cherington has high on his list. That’s bad news for retreads like Jerry Manuel and Willie Randolph.

“The list of guys with big league managing experience on their résumé who are clearly available is pretty short, so I don’t think we can put ourselves in a box to limit ourselves to that pool,’’ Cherington said. “I just think we need to get the right guy.

“It could be someone who hasn’t managed in the big leagues. There’s been plenty of examples of those guys. Joe Maddon hadn’t, at least not in anything other than an interim basis, and went on and did really well. Tito had and went on and did really well.

“There’s been more than one way to skin the cat. I don’t want to go into the interview process with any bias one way or another.’’

The Red Sox clearly have some qualities in mind. They want a manager who, like Francona, is willing to work within a collaborative system. And while they won’t hire a bully, they will want somebody with the ability to ensure professional decorum within the clubhouse.

Most important, perhaps, will be the ability to work well with Cherington. The relationship between Francona and Theo Epstein helped drive the Red Sox for eight successful seasons. Cherington would welcome a chance to emulate that with his own candidate.

That could bode well for Blue Jays coach Torey Lovullo, who managed Pawtucket in 2010, or Milwaukee hitting coach Dale Sveum, who was a member of Francona’s staff from 2004-05.

Cherington, who was a pitcher at Amherst College, could be intrigued with Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux. Hiring a manager who was a pitching coach would lessen the need to hire an experienced pitching coach to replace Curt Young.

Names mentioned weeks ago include bench coaches Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians), Dave Martinez (Rays), Pete Mackanin (Phillies), Trey Hillman (Dodgers), Don Wakamatsu (Blue Jays), and Joey Cora (Marlins).

Cherington also could extend his range and look into Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson, Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, or Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield. Wotus is a Connecticut native and Butterfield is from Maine.

Cherington said several times that he plans to be open-minded.

“We’re not looking for the next star manager,’’ he said. “We’re looking for the right fit for the Red Sox for 2012 and beyond, and that’s our goal.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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