Without directly addressing Bobby Valentine's status, Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington alluded to something Thursday that everyone has known for weeks.
The team may be shopping for a new manager.
In an appearance on the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on WEEI, the Red Sox's flagship radio station, Cherington was asked if the team would move more quickly than last year to hire a new manager should it decide to fire Valentine.
Cherington gave an answer in general terms, never referring to Valentine.
"I'd always rather get the decision right rather than rush it," Cherington said. "But I think that what we know we need to do is hit the ground running in this offseason. One of the things, as I look back at last offseason, that didn't go perfectly was simply the amount of time that we spent on the manager search and what that did to the rest of the offseason. I would like to spend less time on it this offseason, that's for sure."
Last year, Valentine wasn't hired until Dec. 1, a process that was slowed because of GM Theo Epstein's protracted move to the Chicago Cubs in October and a managerial search that began with five candidates before Valentine was brought into the process late by team president Larry Lucchino.
Valentine said Wednesday that he has not yet discussed his future with ownership. He's under contract for one more season (and $2.5 million), and although principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and Lucchino have previously guaranteed that Valentine will finish the season, it's telling that they have passed up several opportunities to extend their votes of confidence to next year.
The Red Sox are 69-87, and with six games remaining, they must finish 4-2 in order to avoid their first 90-loss season since 1966. Valentine has had a season characterized by turmoil, including occasional communication issues with players and coaches.