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Ben Cherington says ‘clean break’ was best for Red Sox

Ben Cherington will assist Dave Dombrowski in the transition as Dombrowski takes over the Red Sox’ baseball operations department.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Stopping short of saying he was blindsided by the Red Sox’ front office shake-up, Ben Cherington indicated he was surprised when owner John Henry informed him Saturday that Dave Dombrowski, who had been fired last month by the Tigers, had been hired as president of baseball operations.

“We hoped Ben Cherington would remain as general manager,’’ Henry said Wednesday during a news conference at Fenway Park introducing Dombrowski as the team’s top baseball executive. “But we knew there was a substantial risk he would not. This was our decision to make.’’

Dombrowski’s hiring, the latest in a series of front office moves triggered by Larry Lucchino’s decision to step down as president and CEO, and including the hiring of former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto as a special consultant, prompted Cherington to step down after four up-and-down seasons as GM, saying it was in the best interest of all parties involved to make “a clean break.’’

“Having been in a lot of conversations with John over the course of the summer, I asked again about his vision for the front office structure,’’ Cherington said. “I felt like, in asking Jerry to come in at that time, I wasn’t sure that was going to be appropriate if there was something going on that I didn’t know about, or some major change, and at that time he had said, ‘No.’


“So that was the path we were going down. I was only focused on trying to find solutions to the problems we had, and then Saturday I was told they were pursuing Dave.’’

For Cherington, 41, the decision to step down brought to a close a 19-year relationship with the team he rooted for while growing up in Meriden, N.H.

“Let me first take a moment to express extreme gratitude to John, to Tom [Werner], to Mike Gordon, to Larry Lucchino for giving me this opportunity to do this four years ago,” Cherington said in a separate news conference at Fenway’s Wheels Up Clubhouse, which was attended by several members of the baseball operations staff, including assistant GMs Mike Hazen and Brian O’Halloran, plus Jared Porter, the director of professional scouting, and Lucchino.


“I’ve spent about 19 seasons with the Red Sox and it’s been an incredible run. I’ve been here for some really good times and some not-so-good times,’’ said Cherington, who was responsible for building the team that won the 2013 World Series. “But I was given the opportunity to do this job and I was rooting for this team for a long time before I worked for it, so I’ll always be grateful for that opportunity.”

Cherington said his decision to part ways with the Red Sox in no way involved awkward feelings he might have had working for Dombrowski.

“I want to say I’ve got great respect for Dave Dombrowski,” Cherington said. “His résumé speaks for itself and he will be an asset, clearly, to the Red Sox, and I wish him and I wish the Red Sox nothing but the best going forward.’’

Cherington said that when he learned of Dombrowski’s hiring, he took a few days to evaluate his role and whether to remain as GM.

“I was able to gather as much information as I could about what was going on and what that might mean,” said Cherington. “I came to the determination that in this case I felt strongly what was best for Dave and what was best for me and what was best for the Red Sox was the same thing, and that was a clean break.


“I knew for a couple of reasons that decision wouldn’t be made by ownership alone, so ultimately I made the decision. It had nothing to do with Dave Dombrowski, with the Red Sox, or any member of the ownership.

“I told John again yesterday, as owner of the Red Sox he’s got to do what he feels is in the best interest of the team. And I feel this decision is in the best interest of the team and in my best interest.’’

Cherington said he had talked with Dombrowski, but at no time was there any discussion about Cherington’s role if he were to stay.

“I do know the only way it was going to work for Dave or for me was if I was all in, if I was fully committed to that vision, and I came to the determination that I wasn’t,’’ said Cherington.

Asked what he planned to do next, Cherington, who indicated he’s “had a few calls’’ from other teams, said he was going to take his time.

“Basically, my adult life has been spent at Fenway Park,” he said. “That’s been great, but it’s time to do something else and time to get a little separation from Fenway Park for a while before I make that decision.’’


Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.