Red Sox get rejection from Twins skipper

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2002

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston's search for a new manager will take longer than expected after the team contacted more clubs Sunday seeking permission to talk to potential managerial candidates.

The Red Sox wanted to add former Twins skipper Tom Kelly to a list that included Felipe Alou, Grady Little, and Mike Cubbage, but Kelly rejected Boston late Sunday.

''When they called Tom, he declined the interview,'' said Twins general manager Terry Ryan, who granted Boston permission late Sunday.

Red Sox interim general manager Mike Port said ''the field is still wide open, so to speak.''

The team wanted to hire a manager by Monday -- and officials worked into the night Sunday -- but acknowledged it may be as late as next weekend before it's done. Opening day is April 1.

''We have aspirations, and we have realities,'' Port said when asked if next weekend is realistic. ''Only in terms of aspirations, that would be great. In terms of reality and practicality, we just have to see what develops.''

Port refused to identify what teams were contacted, if permission was granted or who on those teams the Red Sox are interested in.

Kelly, Minnesota's manager from 1986-2001, told the media Saturday he might be interested and the Red Sox followed up. Ryan would not comment further and Kelly was unavailable late Sunday to comment on his decision.

''It's fair to say some things have come up,'' Port said. ''This is kind of a fluid situation depending on other people's interest, the elements of permission, things like that.''

No interviews were conducted Sunday and none were scheduled for Monday, but Port warned ''we'll have to see what the evening brings.''

Red Sox owner John Henry, president Larry Lucchino and interim general manager Mike Port interviewed Alou on Saturday. They interviewed Little and Cubbage on Friday.

Cubbage was hired in the offseason as Boston's bench coach but has been interim manager since Joe Kerrigan was fired last Tuesday.

Little, 52, was Boston's bench coach from 1997-99. He since has served in the same role for Cleveland. He spent 16 years as a minor league manager.

Kelly's Twins won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. The 51-year-old retired from managing after the 2001 season. He managed Minnesota for 15 full seasons and part of another.

Cubbage says he's a legitimate candidate and isn't giving up hope.

''I can't rush them. I'm sure they'll make a decision as promptly as they can, considering the circumstances,'' Cubbage said Sunday before the Red Sox played the Yankees in Tampa. ''You want it, of course. I guess it gets the juices flowing even more being out there.''

The new manager, if it's not Cubbage, will have to adjust to a shortened evaluation period this spring. Opening day is just three weeks away.

''You deal with the circumstances,'' Port said. ''There are ways to make that evaluation.''

Lucchino and Port worked through the day Sunday doing ''due diligence'' on their current candidates, Port said. He would not say if Henry participated.

Those with big league managing experience, Port said, do not necessarily have advantages over candidates like Little and Cubbage, who have just minor league managing experience.

''There may be other factors that will balance things out,'' he said. ''One thing may weigh off against another.''

Two teams denied Boston permission to speak to their bench coaches -- Oakland's Ken Macha and Houston's Tony Pena.

Los Angeles gave Boston permission to speak to third base coach Glenn Hoffman, but the former Red Sox infielder said he wants to stay with the Dodgers.

Alou, 66, is from the Dominican Republic and would be Boston's first minority manager. His record was 691-717.

Little managed in the minors for Baltimore, Toronto and Atlanta and his record was 1,054-903.

Cubbage, 51, has a .602 winning percentage in six years as a minor league manager.

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