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Sox are settled on finalists

Manager choice is expected soon

(Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 26, 2011
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Perhaps the Red Sox are renting out Terry Francona’s old office to a Boston University grad student until the end of the semester. Or maybe John Henry needed a place to hang out with his buddies and watch Liverpool matches.

For whatever the reason, the Sox remain without a manager and have no plans to select one before next week.

No other candidates have emerged, according to team sources. That leaves Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont and ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine as the finalists.

Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo remains under consideration but has not been called back for a second interview with Henry and team chairman Tom Werner.

Valentine is the presumptive favorite, having been pulled into the process by team president Larry Lucchino earlier this month. The 61-year-old former Rangers and Mets manager has held multiple meetings with Red Sox officials and went through a formal interview with the baseball operations staff on Monday.

Friends described Valentine as “really excited’’ about the idea of managing the Red Sox. But he has not heard from the team since the interview.

Lamont met with ownership earlier this week. That the 64-year-old has come this far in the process is a surprise. He was a late addition to the first round of interviews, called to Fenway Park after the Red Sox interviewed Lovullo, Sandy Alomar Jr., Pete Mackanin, and Dale Sveum, and they needed to hear from somebody with more experience as a manager.

Lamont impressed general manager Ben Cherington with how he interviewed. A low-key Jim Leyland sidekick who last managed in 2000 with the Pirates, Lamont could be seen as the safe alternative to the more aggressive Valentine.

Valentine said on Monday that he was honored to be one of the candidates. But he must be reasonably confident in his ability to land the job following his conversations with Lucchino and Henry. He otherwise would not have gone through the all-day process of interviewing with Cherington and his staff.

The Red Sox investigated the idea of trying to bring former pitching coach John Farrell back from Toronto earlier this month. But the Blue Jays killed that idea by asking for righthander Clay Buchholz as compensation.

That leaves Lamont or Valentine as the choices after eight weeks of searching. Cherington has said he wants a new manager in place before the start of the Winter Meetings in Dallas Dec. 5.

Earlier would be preferable given that the free agent market is expected to heat up next week. Once he has a manager, Cherington can fully invest himself in building the roster.

The Athletics hired Chili Davis as their hitting coach. He was on the staff with Pawtucket last season.

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

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