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Boston methodical in assessing options

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- As the Red Sox interviewed the first
three candidates to replace departed general manager Theo Epstein,
Boston acknowledged that it will explore trading All-Star
outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Washington general manager Jim Bowden, Minnesota assistant GM
Wayne Krivsky and Atlanta assistant GM Dayton Moore interviewed
with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino at a
hotel near the annual general managers' meetings.
The pair also met with Ramirez's agent, Greg Genske, and are
scheduled to speak Friday in Boston with former Baltimore executive
vice president Jim Beattie. Cleveland assistant GM Chris Antonetti
turned down a chance to interview with the Red Sox.
Ramirez's desire to be traded is complicated by his status as a
10-and-5 player -- a 10-year veteran who has been with the same team
for five years. He cannot be dealt without his permission, so he
can limit Boston's trading partners.
"There needs to be some give and take, or some exchange of
preferences and places," Lucchino said Wednesday night. "So,
obviously we have to work together, and we told him we would be
willing to explore that. He needs to give us some guidance."
Ramirez is owed $19 million in 2006, $18 million in 2007 and $20
million in 2008, the final three guaranteed seasons of the $160
million, eight-year deal he agreed to with Boston before the 2001
season. He generally does not speak with reporters, but the Red Sox
are aware of why he wants the team to explore a trade.
"It has something to do with the comfort level he has in
Boston, the city of Boston," Lucchino said. "I think it goes back
to the basic decision to come here, when he made that decision. It
goes back that far."
Werner said a trade isn't a given.
"We'll explore it. I wouldn't be surprised if we conclude that
it's best for the Boston Red Sox to retain his services," he said.
"We are sensitive to his desires but we'll end up doing what we
think is in the best interest of the club."
As for the GM search, Boston wants to hire a replacement by the
winter meetings, scheduled for Dec. 5-8.
"You really should go to the winter meetings armed to do
business," Lucchino said.
Epstein helped put together the 2004 Red Sox team that won the
franchise's first World Series title since 1918. He departed when
his contract expired Oct. 31, after he and Lucchino were unable to
reach a new agreement.
Sitting at a round table and wearing his World Series ring
during a 30-minute group interview, Lucchino rejected assertions
that his role as Epstein's mentor played a key role in Epstein's
departure.
"We really didn't talk very much about that kind of issue or
that kind of relationship," he said. "We were together for 14
years in various capacities in three different cities. I think it
would be presumptuous of me to think of myself as his mentor. I was
someone who was smart enough to hire him and to advance him."
Werner batted down the notion that Boston still might reach a
deal with Epstein.
"We have heard the rumors but we completely discount them," he
said.
Lucchino repeatedly said the Red Sox want to move ahead from the
Epstein era.
"His departure does not terminate the history of the club," he
said.
Bowden, the most experienced of the candidates interviewed
Wednesday, agreed in October to a six-month contract extension
through April with the Nationals, who are owned by the other 29
clubs and are up for sale. Bowden was born in Boston and said
"it's always been a dream job" to join the Red Sox.
"I thought it went very well," Bowden said. "Obviously, both
are highly intelligent people. They were very well prepared and
asked good questions."
Bowden said that if he got the job, he wouldn't view it as
replacing Epstein.
"It's more like I'd take the baton and keep on going," he
said.
Bowden was Cincinnati's general manager from 1992-03, then moved
to the Montreal Expos/Nationals when Omar Minaya left after the
2004 season to become GM of the New York Mets.

Notes
Red Sox officials met with the agent for CF Johnny Damon,
who became a free agent, "to explore parameters of a deal,"
Lucchino said. ... Lucchino was disappointed that the timing of
Epstein's departure came only a few days after Boston assistant GM
Josh Byrnes left to become general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Byrnes would have been considered to replace Epstein.
"He wanted to be a general manager and this opportunity was right
there teed up for him."