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Red Sox set to begin manager interviews

As promised, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington began the managerial search this week, contacting at least two candidates to succeed Bobby Valentine.

Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach is scheduled to interview Friday, while Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus could come in Tuesday or Wednesday, according to a major league source.

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Other candidates may have been contacted as well, but the Red Sox are trying to keep things as secret as possible, especially when it comes to the pursuit of Blue Jays manager John Farrell.

As of Thursday, the Red Sox had no plans to make candidates available to the media, as has been their custom in the past.

As for Farrell’s status, both the Boston and Toronto front offices have been mum. If a deal is to be made there, it could come from a level above the general managers, as Toronto CEO Paul Beeston and Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino are close friends.

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Farrell, who would be entering the last year of a three-year contract, also could be offered an extension, and if he accepts, that would take him out of the running in Boston. For the Sox to get him, the Jays would likely hold out for major compensation, though having a manager with lame-duck status is not something teams prefer to do.

While neither Wallach nor Ausmus has major league managerial experience, they are both well respected and generally projected to be good managers.

Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten said Thursday that Wallach “is a definite future major league manager.”

Ausmus’s catching background should make him a manager with a strong understanding of pitching, which is what the Red Sox seem to be looking for.

What is not known is whether Wallach and Ausmus are fallback candidates, being interviewed just in case the Sox and Jays can’t settle on compensation for Farrell, or whether the division rivals have already tried and failed to work things out.

Nobody is saying where it stands. What is known is that Lucchino is returning from a brief trip to Europe and may get involved in the Toronto talks. Otherwise, the process is expected to be heavily slanted in Cherington’s direction.

While according to one Red Sox source the list could number as high as 20, the number interviewed could be less than half of that.

There could always be surprises.

Both Colorado and Cleveland have changed managers, so Jim Tracy and Manny Acta are available.

There were whispers last weekend about Joe Torre getting the itch to manage again. Tony La Russa has indicated he wouldn’t mind a front office job but didn’t think he’d return to the dugout. But who knows?

Under major league rules, the Red Sox must include at least one minority candidate. Tampa Bay coach Dave Martinez, Baltimore coach DeMarlo Hale, Miami coach Joey Cora, Yankees coach Tony Pena, and former Sox player Don Baylor, who managed in Colorado and Chicago, could be considered.

The Red Sox want the manager hired in time for him to be involved in the extensive rebuilding process they face this offseason. That process started much too late last season, when Valentine wasn’t hired until December.

The Sox also want to give the new manager time to sort through coaching candidates, though as Cherington pointed out, not all of the current coaches’ contracts have expired. At least two — bullpen coach Gary Tuck and hitting coach Dave Magadan — have contracts with team options. Bench coach Tim Bogar may have a similar deal.

The most important coach to be hired will likely be the pitching coach. The Sox need one who can get Jon Lester straightened out, get Clay Buchholz to that No. 1 level, and continue the progress of Felix Doubront.

The new coach could have some say in which pitchers to pursue in free agency or trades. The new manager will have to have a strong voice in that position to rectify the most disappointing aspect of the team last season.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on twitter @nickcafardo.
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