Did Cherington hint at managerial search?

Appearing on the WEEI's "Dennis & Callahan" on Thursday morning, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington responded to a hypothetical question on whether the team would move quickly on hiring a new manager should it decide to fire Bobby Valentine.

He didn't directly say anything about a decision on Valentine, but his response was curious.

"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."

Later in the day, Cherington responded to an ESPNBoston.com request asking what he meant by those comments.

"I meant it in the most literal sense," Cherington wrote to ESPNBoston.com in an email. "We've made it clear that we'll meet after the season (to make a decision on manager Bobby Valentine). One way or another my hope is to spend less time on the matter than we did last offseason."

Before Wednesday's game, Valentine said he has not yet been told by ownership whether he will return next season.

"My gut feeling is they haven't talked to me yet," he said. "There hasn't been any dialogue. We've talked, but not about that. Which makes me think I'm coming back. I don't know."

Cherington also addressed other issues facing the Red Sox this offseason, including David Ortiz's future in Boston, the possible hiring of Jason Varitek, and Jon Lester's disappointing season. Here are some of the highlights:

On whether he thinks David Ortiz will finish his career with the Red Sox:

"Yeah, I do. I'm certainly hopeful of that. We're going to sit down with David and his representatives, maybe even before the season is over but certainly right after, and start talking about how to do that. … We went through it last year. All I know is it won't be quite the same as it was last year, because the rules have changed. But we're very hopeful he'll be back. He's a huge part of the team on and off the field."

On the possibility of hiring Jason Varitek and what role he might fill:

We’re hopeful he’s onboard …There's no one more respected in our clubhouse, really still, than 'Tek. … My hope is that he can be a set of eyes and ears for me and we can expose him to a lot of different things, let him see what he enjoys the most, what he doesn't, and we will go from there. As you guys know, I think he can probably do anything he wants in baseball.”

Is Varitek a candidate to replace Bobby Valentine?

“To start, [his role] won’t be in the dugout, it’ll be off the field. I think we're going to allow him to kind of get his feet wet in a lot of different areas and get to know different areas of the organization and just be someone I can call and bounce some stuff off of. There’s a real benefit to having someone who understands a major league clubhouse, and how it operates, just to bounce stuff off of. There’s no one better to do that with than Tek."

On Jon Lester, who has a 9-14 record and a career-worst 4.94 ERA:

"Part of it is, when you're as good as he was for as long has he's been, four years in a row over 200 innings, one of the best pitchers in the league in a tough division, he's worked really hard. There can be a cumulative effect to that and then you mix in a little bad luck and then Jon would admit himself that he got into some bad habits with his delivery that he has worked to address and it just hasn't come together for him completely he way he wanted, although I think he's looked better the last couple of months overall. The good news is that he's healthy, he's driven, he wants nothing else more than to prove next year that he's one of the elite guys in the American League and I wouldn't bet against him."