The Red Sox will start the search for a manager in earnest today when they interview Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin. Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, a former Sox coach, will interview later in the week.
They are the first of what is expected to be a small group of candidates to replace Terry Francona.
Mackanin, 60, has extensive experience. The Chicago native has been with the Phillies for three seasons after spending 2008 scouting for the Yankees. He was the interim manager of the Reds in 2007 (41-39) and Pirates in 2005 (12-14) and has seven years of major league coaching experience with the Expos and Pirates.
Mackanin was 917-849 in 13 years as a minor league manager, finishing in first place five times. He also managed four years of winter ball in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
A former infielder, he played 548 games with the Rangers, Expos, Phillies, and Twins from 1973-81. He hit .226.
Sveum, who turns 48 next month, was the Sox’ third base coach from 2004-05. He has been with the Brewers in the six seasons since, serving as third base coach, bench coach, and hitting coach under three managers.
Sveum became interim manager in 2008, leading the Brewers to a 7-5 record and a playoff spot. Milwaukee then lost a division series against the Phillies in four games. The Phillies went on to win the World Series.
Sveum has three years of minor league managing experience, all with Pittsburgh from 2001-03. He was 213-211 and led Altoona (Pa.) to the 2003 Eastern League playoffs.
Sveum played 12 years in the majors (1986-99) for the Brewers, Phillies, White Sox, Athletics, Mariners, Pirates, and Yankees. He hit .236 with 69 home runs.
Scutaro is retained
The Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro, who turned 36 yesterday.
Scutaro hit .299 with a .358 on-base percentage over 113 games. He was particularly impressive in September, hitting .387 with a 1.019 OPS. Scutaro started 102 games at shortstop and two at second base.
Scutaro held a $3 million player option for 2012, but surely would have declined that and entered the free agent market.
The Sox see Scutaro as being able to hold down the position until 21-year-old Jose Iglesias is ready. Iglesias hit .235 in Triple A last season, with a .285 on-base percentage and a .269 slugging percentage. He played 10 games in the majors, going 2 for 6 at the plate.
The Sox have until today to decide whether to pick up their $3 million option on righthander Dan Wheeler. The reliever had a 4.38 earned run average in 47 appearances.
Free agency starts
Eight Sox were among the 148 players who became free agents yesterday. They can speak with other teams but cannot field offers until 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Righthander Erik Bedard, outfielder J.D. Drew, infielder-outfielder Conor Jackson, lefthander Trever Miller, designated hitter David Ortiz, closer Jonathan Papelbon, catcher Jason Varitek, and righthander Tim Wakefield are the Sox free agents.
The Sox are in negotiations with Ortiz and there is a possibility he could sign before entering the market. There is virtually no chance that would happen with Papelbon, who long has been intent on entering the market and told the Sox that.