<
>

If fired, Little wouldn't be surprised

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little said he is not sure he wants to be back with the team next season, according to a published report.

Little, second-guessed for keeping Pedro Martinez on the mound in the team's 6-5, 11th-inning loss to the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series after Martinez struggled in the seventh and eighth innings, will not be surprised if he's fired.

"I'm prepared for the likelihood," Little told The Boston
Globe. "I am not sure that I want to manage that team. That's how
I felt when I drove out of town."

Little said he has not heard from the team's management since
returning to his North Carolina home.

"All I know is that when I left there, there was some
hesitation," he said. "That's all I need to know."

The club has an option on Little's contract for next season. In
his two years as Red Sox manager, they were 93-69 and 95-67, and
qualified for the playoffs this season for the first time since
1999.

"Right now I am disappointed that evidently some people are
judging me on the results of one decision I made -- not the
decision, but the results of the decision," he said. "Less than
24 hours before, those same people were hugging and kissing me. If
that's the way they operate, I'm not sure I want to be part of it."

Many of the team's key players, including Todd Walker and Manny Ramirez, have publicly said Little should return.

If he had to do it again, Little said he would keep Martinez in
to pitch the eighth inning, when the Yankees came back from a 5-2
deficit to tie the game.

Little, 53, became the Red Sox's 43rd manager on
March 11, 2002 after Joe Kerrigan was fired. Kerrigan had taken
over late in the 2001 season after Jimy Williams was fired.

Little managed 16 seasons in the minors from 1980 through 1995
and was San Diego's bullpen coach in 1996. He spent the next three
seasons as Williams' bench coach in Boston then had the same job
the next two seasons with Charlie Manuel in Cleveland.