Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington Thursday clarified remarks he made in an interview on WEEI earlier in the day in which he said he’d like to move faster the next time he has to fill the field manager position.
Reached by the Globe Thursday afternoon, Cherington said he did not mean to suggest that Bobby Valentine’s firing was imminent.
“I honestly meant it very literally, like we would like to spend less time on it,’’ Cherington said. “That could mean one day, that could mean no days.
“In my mind, it was nothing to do with Bobby or a decision about him. But I guess people are taking it the wrong way, and if I need to clarify it, I’ll clarify it.’’
Toward the end of his interview on the “Dennis and Callahan” show, Cherington was asked what his approach would be if a managerial change was necessary.
“What we know we need to do is hit the ground running this offseason,’’ Cherington said. “One of the things as I look back on last offseason that didn’t go perfectly was simply the amount of time that we spent on the manager search and what that did to the rest of the offseason.
“I would like to spend less time on it this offseason, that’s for sure.”
That answer led to speculation that Cherington had tipped his hand on Valentine’s status. But Cherington said later, “We’d like to focus less of our offseason on who the manager is. I don’t think that has anything to do with Bobby Valentine. It has to do with how we’re allocating our time.
“As Larry [Lucchino] has stated many times, and as ownership has stated many times, Bobby is managing the team and we’ll meet after the season.’’
Before Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Rays in the Sox home finale of the 2012 season, Valentine reiterated that he’d like to return for a second year as a manager.
“When I come back next year,’’ Valentine said, “I think I’ll be prepared to handle them and hopefully we’ll have better results.’’
Under Valentine, the Red Sox compiled their worst record at Fenway Park (34-47) since the 1965 team posted the same mark.
“Fenway Park has always been an advantage for us over the years, because we’ve always been a tough team to play at home, generally,” said Cherington, “but we certainly weren’t this year.
“Part of being who we want to be is getting back to being a really tough team to play at home. I don’t think there’s any secret formula for that: If we pitch better, have a deeper lineup, and execute, we’ll be a tougher team to play at home.
“That’s up to us this offseason to rebuild the roster and put a more competitive team out there next year.’’
After David Ortiz indicated his desire Wednesday to re-sign with the Red Sox for 2013 — and to finish his career with the club — Cherington supported that notion Thursday and said the team would try to bring back the popular designated hitter, who hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games this season.
“We want to do everything we can to keep him here,’’ Cherington said. “We want to give him the chance to retire as a Red Sox. He’s a big part of the lineup and a big part of the team and obviously means a lot to the franchise.
“A player of his status doesn’t go through the arbitration process anymore — that’s part of the new CBA. One way or another, he will not be going through arbitration, but there’s different ways to keep him with the Red Sox and we’ll talk to him and his representatives about that and hopefully we can find some common ground.’’
Varitek to assist GM
Jason Varitek will be a special assistant to the general manager, the Red Sox announced. “Jason was one of the most respected players of his era and will be a key voice as we move forward,” said Cherington in a statement. “He will be involved in a number of areas, including major league personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players.”
Iglesias: Work to do
Cherington said the team was still in discussions with Jose Iglesias about the young shortstop’s offseason plans and whether it was prudent for him to focus more on strength and condition than on playing winter ball. Iglesias has struggled at the plate, hitting just .118 (6 for 51) in the 19 games he’s played since his Aug. 25 call-up from Pawtucket, where he hit .266 with 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 88 games. While Iglesias could benefit from getting extra at-bats during the offseason, the club was of the opinion that the gains he could make in the workout room would far outweigh those of winter ball. “Definitely there’s been conversations about the need for a good offseason — from a strength and conditioning standpoint — and so we may still focus on that,’’ Cherington said. “But no final determination has been made.’’Continued...