BOSTON -- As was expected, the Boston Red Sox named Ben Cherington to replace Theo Epstein as the team's 11th general manager.
"I'm incredibly honored to be given this opportunity," said Cherington, who has been with the team in various capacities for 14 years.
Cherington was introduced by president and CEO Larry Lucchino, who called him "the ultimate team player."
"I truly believe there is no ownership group in baseball that's more committed to winning or better to work with than this group right here," said Cherington, a New Hampshire native who, like Epstein, grew up following the Red Sox.
Cherington's first job will be to find a manager to replace Terry Francona, a two-time World Series winner who admitted he lost the clubhouse in his eighth season and was let go after the team's unprecedented September collapse. The coaching staff also will need to be rebuilt as pitching coach Curt Young left for the Oakland Athletics.
"I want someone who has a strong voice, someone who cares about players but is also ready and willing to have tough conversations with them," Cherington said of his managerial search. "I want someone who will collaborate with ownership but someone who is also willing to make an argument when they disagree. ... As far as timeline, we're going to move swiftly but diligently. We're pretty early in the offseason, but certainly we will get going on that search very soon."
In fact, he said the search has already started.
"We've done a lot of due diligence the last couple of weeks ... we've narrowed a list down to a probable first group of interviews," Cherington said. "I'm not prepared to say who they are because we haven't asked permission yet. ... We expect to start the interview process soon."
Cherington also will have to deal with the fallout from the team's 7-20 September that left it one game short of the playoffs. The pitching staff disintegrated over the final month, followed by news reports that several starters were drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.
"I believe there is a great motivation to clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up in the clubhouse and move forward for 2012," Cherington said.
But Cherington is not going to jump to conclusions.
"If there are things that need to be addressed, we're going to go directly to the players about it," he said. "I don't think anyone should be judged by one moment, one piece of behavior. Instead, they should be judged on the body of work."
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