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Red Sox hedging their bets on manager

It’s believed even though the Red Sox are interviewing, they still hope to name John Farrell their manager.

FILE/CHRIS YOUNG/CANADIAN PRESS/AP

It’s believed even though the Red Sox are interviewing, they still hope to name John Farrell their manager.

Major league sources still believe the Red Sox hope to eventually name John Farrell as their next manager.

General manager Ben Cherington has not commented on Farrell, who has a year remaining on his contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. But Farrell has been their target since the firing of Bobby Valentine Oct. 4.

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The decision could hinge on whether Red Sox president Larry Lucchino can broker an agreement with his Toronto counterpart, Paul Beeston.

If the Sox cannot pull Farrell away from the Toronto Blue Jays, an impressive list of alternative candidates is being assembled.

The Sox on Monday interviewed Yankees bench coach Tony Pena. Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus will be at Fenway Park Wednesday and Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale is scheduled for an interview Thursday.

The team interviewed Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach last week.

Cherington and his staff interviewed five low-profile candidates last fall before being prodded by Lucchino to turn to Valentine. That proved to be a disaster as the Red Sox went 69-93.

A year later, the Sox are looking at a stronger group of candidates. What makes Pena unique among them is that he has major league managerial experience and ties to the Red Sox.

The 55-year-old Pena caught for the Sox from 1990-93, winning a Gold Glove in 1991. He played 18 years in all, retiring in 1997 after stints with the Pirates, Cardinals, Sox, Indians, White Sox, and Astros.

Pena stayed on the field in 1998, managing for the White Sox in the Arizona Fall League. He then managed Triple A New Orleans for the Astros for two seasons before joining Houston’s major league staff in 2002.

The Royals hired Pena in May that season. He was 198-285 with Kansas City, winning American League manager of the year honors in 2003 when the Royals finished 83-79. Kansas City has not had a winning record since.

Kansas City slumped to 58 victories the following season. Pena then resigned 33 games into the 2005 season.

He joined the Yankees as their first base coach and catching instructor in 2006. The Yankees considered Pena as manager in 2007 before choosing Joe Girardi. Pena then became bench coach in 2009.

“Tony’s a great baseball man,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said Monday. “He’s one of those guys that played in the game almost 20 years and as soon as he got out of the game as a player he went into it as a coach. So he knows baseball from both sides being a catcher. He’s the ultimate field general. He has a lot of energy.”

Pena is considered one of best catching instructors in the game and could have a positive influence on Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway. He also has the kind of disposition that could help change the depressing atmosphere around the team.

“I’m not sure what personality they’re looking for,” Teixeira said. “But I know we love Tony here. I’ve been here for four years and he’s always having fun, he’s always joking around. He’ll get tough if he needs to. He’s one of those guys that really meshes well with our clubhouse.”

Red Sox vice president of player personnel Allard Baird was the general manager in Kansas City when Pena was manager.

Pena has two sons playing in the minor leagues, including Tony Pena Jr., who pitched the last two seasons with Triple A Pawtucket.

Ausmus, 43, played 18 seasons with four teams. After a final season with the Dodgers in 2010, he joined the Padres as a special assistant to the general manager. His only experience managing came this year when he handled Israel’s team in the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.

Ausmus, a Connecticut native, attended Dartmouth.

The success Mike Matheny (Cardinals) and Robin Ventura (White Sox) had as first-time managers this season lends credence to the idea that Ausmus could be successful in Boston despite his lack of experience. Matheny played 13 seasons, retiring in 2006 and joining the Cardinals front office in 2008 before becoming manager. He now has the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

Hale, 51, is a former Red Sox coach and minor league manager. He was Terry Francona’s bench coach from 2010-11 after spending four years as the third base coach.

Hale did not get an interview last fall, something that was true of all of Francona’s coaches. But he is well-regarded within the organization and has the kind of communication skills that would serve the Red Sox well.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
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