Lovullo interviews as Papelbon departs Red Sox

Torey Lovullo arrived at Fenway Park on Friday morning to

interview for the job as Red Sox manager. By the time he was done,

the team was looking for a new closer.

Jonathan Papelbon, who finished off the 2007 World Series

victory, agreed to a four-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies,

a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated

Press.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he wanted Papelbon

back, but it was too early in the offseason to commit to a

big-money, four-year contract. Papelbon’s deal was the largest ever

for a reliever – $50 million, the person told the AP on condition

of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced and

is subject to Papelbon passing a physical.

”I have a great admiration for Pap. We’d like to have him back

on the team still,” Cherington told reporters at Fenway Park.

”It’s not something that matched up with what Pap is looking for.

Because of that, we never made a formal offer.”

Papelbon, who will be 30 next season, saved 219 games over seven

seasons with the Red Sox, including 31 this year. But he was on the

mound – one strike away from a victory – when the team blew a lead

in the season finale against the Baltimore Orioles; Boston finished

one game behind Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race.

Papelbon also blew a save in the clincher of Boston’s 2009

playoff series against the Los Angeles Angels.

But those failures were the exceptions in a steady career in

which Papelbon converted 88.3 percent of his save opportunities and

posted a 23-19 record and a 2.33 ERA in 396 appearances. He was

paid $12 million last year, but he repeatedly declined to negotiate

on a long-term deal, saying he wanted to test the free agent

market.

”Pap has worked extremely hard to put himself in this

position,” Cherington said. ”We knew he was going to be in

demand, and we knew teams that were in position to win would have

interest in him, and certainly Philly is one of them.”

Papelbon’s departure probably left the Red Sox closing job in

the hands of Daniel Bard, who had been outstanding as a setup man

before falling apart down the stretch as the team went 7-20 in

September. Bard finished with a 2-9 record and 3.33 ERA that

included an 0-4 record and 10.64 ERA in September.

”I think Daniel will embrace more responsibility,” Cherington

said. ”Daniel’s one of the most prepared and conscientious

pitchers in Major League Baseball.”

Bobby Jenks, who closed for the Chicago White Sox when they won

the World Series in 2005, is recovering from an embolism and then

needs back surgery. He is expected to be ready to pitch during

spring training.

”We have a couple of internal options to close,” Cherington

said. ”We feel like there are alternatives both internal and

perhaps external, as well. It’s a bountiful closer market relative

to some years. We just felt like right now the focus was going to

be on other areas of the team.”

Lovullo is the fourth person to interview for the managerial job

that opened when the team parted ways with Terry Francona, who

admitted losing the clubhouse during the September collapse.

Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Phillies bench coach Pete

Mackanin and Indians coach Sandy Alomar Jr. have already been in to

discuss the job; former Pirates and White Sox manager Gene Lamont

is scheduled for Saturday.

A second baseman, Lovullo played 303 games over eight seasons

with the Tigers, Yankees, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Indians and

Phillies; he also played in Latin America and Japan.

”I’ve seen a lot; I feel like I’m very diverse in many areas,”

said Lovullo, who was the first base coach in Toronto last season.

”I was very excited to get to that level as a staff member.”

Lovullo has also managed in the minor leagues, including the Red

Sox Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I. When he was hired, the

team’s head of amateur scouting and player development, Mike Hazen,

told him he was effectively the 31st major league manager.

”It made a lot of sense, because I was exposed to many of you,

exposed to the Red Sox Nation, and it’s real,” Lovullo said. ”You

don’t know exactly what it’s like until you’re a part of it. It’s a

pretty spectacular place. Does that give me a leg up on the

competition? I’m not certain. I feel very comfortable with the

surroundings, the people and their concepts, and I’m fortunate for

that.”

—(equals)

AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this story from

Philadelphia.