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.''
AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this story from Philadelphia.