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Managerial pick delayed

No need for Terry Francona to panic just yet. But the Red Sox, who initially indicated they would introduce their next manager tomorrow, plan to briefly delay the announcement, according to a source familiar with the process.

While Francona remains the overwhelming front-runner, the Sox indicated Anaheim bench coach Joe Maddon remains a viable candidate. Maddon, a long shot at best since newly acquired Curt Schilling seems to anticipate Francona joining him next season in Boston, is expected to have a second followup telephone interview with team president Larry Lucchino as early as today.

The session was tentatively scheduled for late last week.

"Once the Schilling thing happened, that put everything on hold," Maddon said yesterday. "Since that started, I've been enjoying my Thanksgiving."

The possibility exists, of course, that Lucchino could end the discussion with Maddon by thanking him for interviewing and eliminating him from the process. The only other formal candidates -- Los Angeles third base coach Glenn Hoffman and Texas first base coach DeMarlo Hale -- already appear to have been ruled out. But Maddon remained upbeat, particularly about Boston's chances next season after the Schilling acquisition.

The Sox are expected to introduce Grady Little's replacement by the end of the week.

"It's enticing regardless," Maddon said of the job, "but [Schilling] is one of the top five or six pitchers in all of baseball, and to have him in a rotation with Pedro [Martinez] and Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield, that's not going to be fun for many other teams."

Maddon said he was not worried about Francona's close ties to Schilling, who was Philadelphia's ace when Francona managed the Phillies from 1997 to 2000. Schilling has spoken glowingly about Francona and cited him as a reason why he was willing to waive his no-trade clause to accept a deal with the Sox.

"You don't concern yourself with that," Maddon said. "Terry's a good person. It would be like one of the players I managed saying nice things about me. You would expect that."

Maddon has less managerial experience than Francona but is considered more attuned to incorporating statistical analysis in game preparation. Yet Francona, who has kept a low profile in recent days, thoroughly impressed Sox management as a candidate who could maintain a positive attitude in the clubhouse, as Little did, and make good use of information the team would provide him to prepare for games and manage them.

Foulke next target

The morning after principal owner John W. Henry made clear he remains focused on acquiring All-Star closer Keith Foulke despite his new investment (a potential $38.5 million plus performance bonuses through 2007) in Schilling, general manager Theo Epstein was back at work on Yawkey Way. The Sox appear to have the inside track with Foulke, especially since the free agent may be too costly for his 2003 team, the Athletics, to re-sign.

The Oakland Tribune, citing a source, reported Friday that A's general manager Billy Beane "is all but conceding the loss of Keith Foulke and has free agent LaTroy Hawkins at the top of his wish list of replacements."

Epstein showed Foulke the town, including a Celtics game last week, and the reliever has yet to make a similar visit elsewhere, though the Mets and other teams appear interested. Foulke is expected to command between $6 million-$8 million annually, but the deal could hit a snag with the Sox if he seeks a fourth year in his contract. The team's new owners so far have balked at signing off on a contract longer than three years.

The Sox are likely to wait until after Dec. 7 to sign Foulke since they would not lose a first-round draft pick as compensation to the A's if Oakland opts against offering Foulke arbitration by then.

If the Sox need a fallback, they may turn to free agent Eddie Guardado, whose 41 saves for Minnesota ranked second in the AL last season to Foulke's 43. The Sox have had little contact, if any, with the lefthander's agent since the eve of the general managers meetings last month.

Schilling a hit with Henry

As much as Henry praised Wakefield, Martinez, and Nomar Garciaparra, among others, for their contributions to the community, he cited Schilling as a model of performance on the field and active generosity off it. Henry pointed in particular to Schilling's immediate $500,000 contribution to the Jimmy Fund as an example of the kind of player the new ownership has sought. "No one epitomizes that player more than Curt Schilling," he said.

Henry also credited Schilling for spending time during the negotiation process communicating with Sox fans on Internet sites such as Sons of Sam Horn. Schilling even held a chat on the site Saturday night, more than 24 hours after the talks ended.

Henry said he occasionally posts his thoughts on Sons of Sam Horn and sometimes relays ideas or analyses from the site to Sox officials.

"They frequently have good, strong ideas and viewpoints," he said. "I do not recommend the site, however, and caution parents against having their children visit the site simply because the language there sometimes is unnecessarily obscene. If it were to clean up its act in that one area, it would become a respected institution among fans. Adults cannot get a better, more informed or timely discussion of important Red Sox issues anywhere."

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 RED SOX NOTEBOOK: Managerial pick delayed
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