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No guarantees, reliable reliever says

BOSTON -- Mike Timlin didn't doubt manager Grady Little
while sitting in the bullpen, waiting for the phone to ring, and he
isn't going to start now.

"I'm not going to second-guess what Grady did there," Timlin
said Monday during a conference call to discuss his new contract
with the Red Sox. "He was between a rock and a hard place. I
guarantee there's no person in this country who would want to sit
in that seat and make that decision."

Timlin, who agreed to a one-year deal with an option for a
guaranteed $2.75 million, was Boston's most reliable reliever last
season, going 6-4 with two saves and a 3.55 ERA and leading the
team with 72 appearances. In the playoffs, he retired his first 23
batters and did not allow a run in 9 2/3 innings as he developed
into an eighth-inning specialist.

But with Boston leading 5-2 in the eighth inning of the seventh
game of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees,
Little decided to let Pedro Martinez try to pitch his way out of
trouble. Martinez blew a 5-2 lead before Timlin came in to finish
the eighth, the Yankees won in 11 innings and Little was let go as
manager after the season.

"Sure, I reflect on it. I'm like everybody else. I could go,
'What if? What if?' " Timlin said.

Martinez said after the game that Little wasn't to blame, and Timlin pointed out that there was no guarantee that he and
closer Scott Williamson would have done better.

"You don't know," Timlin said. "That's the really cool thing
about baseball: You don't know. If Pedro stayed in there and got
everybody out, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Timlin, 37, will get $2.5 million next year, and Boston has a
$2.75 million option with a $250,000 buyout.

Timlin was disappointed that Little was not brought back. The Red
Sox have interviewed Glenn Hoffman, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon
and are still considering candidates. They hope to make a decision
by the end of the month.

Timlin said he spoke with Little after the manager was let go
and they discussed their respective options.

"I really enjoyed playing for Grady. If I had signed with
another team, it would have been a new manager anyway. So I might
as well be comfortable again," Timlin said. "Grady played a huge
part in how we related to each other. You can't duplicate that. But
the next manager might do something better that Grady lacked.

"I expect great things to happen," he said. "There was a
unique satisfaction among Red Sox players about what we
accomplished."

Also Monday, the results of the AL MVP voting were announced,
with a league-high six Red Sox players receiving votes. Texas
shortstop Alex Rodriguez won with 242 points, with Boston's David
Ortiz fifth (130), Manny Ramirez sixth (100), Nomar Garciaparra
seventh (99), Bill Mueller 12th (45), Pedro Martinez 22nd (7) and
Jason Varitek 25th (3).

"We have 25 guys that were going in one direction," said
Timlin, who said he would have voted for Mueller, the Red Sox third
baseman and the AL batting champion. "As we rolled along the season,
we didn't really fall off the track. There's a lot of other teams,
if they lost a guy in their lineup, their offense suffers. Ours did
not. Nothing slowed us down. That type of machine is what we were
featuring all the time. That just doesn't happen a lot."