While we’ve known since before the season even ended that the Red Sox would start this offseason looking for a new manager, we haven’t really heard much on that front to this point. That’s not terribly surprising since they tend to keep these searches close to the vest as it is, and it’s even easier to do that when any initial interviews are almost certainly taking place remotely on Zoom (or whatever video platform). That said, when there’s the whole Alex Cora elephant in the room, the silence on the search front can speak volumes, fairly or not.
The silence did change slightly on Thursday, though, as we got (to my knowledge anyway) the first report of an actual interview from Jon Heyman. He reported that the team interviewed Will Venable, currently the third base coach for the Cubs. Additionally, Heyman lists Dodgers first base coach George Lombard and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly as possibilities before deeming Cora as being viewed as the favorite.
Cubs coach Will Venable interviewed for Red Sox manager. Dodgers coach George Lombard and Pirates coach Don Kelly among others thought to be on their list. Alex Cora, with support of owners, players and fans, has been viewed as the favorite.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) October 22, 2020
Venable isn’t all that far removed from his playing days, having retired following the 2016 season after a solid nine-year career spent mostly in San Diego. After retirement he quickly joined the Cubs organization. Originally he served as a special assistant to Theo Epstein, but in 2018 and 2019 he served as the team’s first base coach before moving to third base this past summer. While he’s still relatively young in the coaching world, this is not the first traction he’s gotten on the managerial front, having also interviewed for the Cubs after Joe Maddon left as well as for the Astros last winter.
As for the other names on this list, they fit the same mold as the sort of “up and coming” style manager in a space Venable occupies as well. Lombard, as mentioned, is currently with the Dodgers. The Red Sox have some familiarity with him as well as he spent time coaching and managing in Boston’s farm system over the first half of last decade. Kelly, meanwhile, is a former utility man who has already coached for a few different teams, going from the Tigers to the Astros to his current position with the Pirates. Both Kelly and Lombard are also candidates in the Tigers managerial search.
It always comes back to Cora, though. He is not allowed to do anything with any team until the World Series is over, so the countdown is on for a resolution to that part of this whole situation. That said, with this news we now at least know they are considering other options, with Venable having been formally interviewed.
Update (1:23 PM ET)
Alex Speier confirms the Red Sox have interviewed Venable and also indicates they have already interviewed Don Kelly as well.