BOSTON (AP) — Ben Cherington was in his first year in a major league front office — as an advance scout for the Cleveland Indians — when he came across Sandy Alomar Jr.
"He didn't know who I was, in '98 with Cleveland," said Cherington, who is now the Red Sox general manager and leading the search for a new manager in Boston. "But I saw him in the clubhouse — I was in the clubhouse all the time — and I saw the leader he was back then, the respect he had in that clubhouse. I've been sort of following him since then."
It was that respect that led Cherington to add Alomar to the short list of candidates interviewing to replace Terry Francona as the Red Sox manager. Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin have already been in to discuss the job; former Pirates and White Sox manager Gene Lamont and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo are scheduled to come in later this week.
Cherington said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of additional candidates.
Alomar, who spent parts of 20 seasons catching in the majors — most notably as the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year and a six-time All-Star for the Indians — has been the first base coach in Cleveland for the past two seasons. He is the only candidate the Red Sox have acknowledged who has no managerial experience.
"His name kept coming up as a guy with a ton of respect in baseball," Cherington said. "We felt that, in spite of the lack of managerial experience, it was worth getting to know him better. ... He's going to be a major league manager. Whether that's in 2012 or sometime after that, I'm very confident to say that he'll be a big league manager sometime."
The Red Sox parted ways with Francona this fall after the team's unprecedented September collapse, the result of a 7-20 record down the stretch that left them one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card race. After allegations of players fattening up on fried chicken and beer during games, each managerial candidate has been grilled by reporters on his approach to clubhouse discipline.
"The goal for a manager is to let your players manage themselves. In order to do that, you have to let the guys play," he said. "I am a guy that lets the players play the game. You have some rules, but you respect the players (and) they respect you back."
The 45-year-old Alomar also played for the Padres, White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets. He had a lifetime average of .273 with 112 homers and 588 RBIs.
He said he has played for nine managers, all of whom reached the postseason in their careers; six of them reached the World Series, and two of them won it. His father, Sandy Alomar Sr., spent 15 seasons in the majors as a second baseman, and his brother, Roberto, is in the Hall of Fame.
So it's no surprise that when asked to describe his managerial style, he said, "I like the family atmosphere."
"We are a family. We bonded — coaches, players," he said. "That's the way I would handle it."