Red Sox CEO says no notable progress in search; fans back Jason Varitek

CEO Sam Kennedy said the Boston Red Sox haven't made any notable progress in the search for a new manager as of late Friday but would like to have one in place for the start of spring training in mid-February.

"It's got to be someone who fits the culture of this team and has a knowledge of what it's going to take to put a championship team on the field in 2020," Kennedy said during the team's winter festival Friday in Springfield, Massachusetts. "It's a tall task to get someone in place, but Chaim [Bloom, the chief baseball officer] and [general manager Brian O'Halloran] will get it done for sure."

If it was up to the fans, the answer would be easy: Jason Varitek.

Supporters in Springfield pleaded for Boston's front office to hire the former catcher and team captain as a replacement for Alex Cora, with whom the team parted ways Wednesday due to his involvement in a cheating scandal while he was bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017.

Members of the team's leadership group were hit with "Hire Tek!" chants throughout Friday night, and principal owner John Henry was interrupted several times by fans voicing their support. Henry paused and nodded in acknowledgement, and Bloom used the opportunity to appease the crowd.

"I think if you poll the audience, they would just get this done right now," Bloom said to big applause.

Fans also peppered retired Red Sox legends David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez with questions about the managerial vacancy during a separate panel.

Ortiz was asked if he would accept a managerial or front-office job with the team but said that he wasn't at a good point in his life to do so.

The 44-year-old former designated hitter is still recovering after being shot last June in what authorities called a case of mistaken identity in his native Dominican Republic.

"One day I will be [ready]," Ortiz said.

Martinez said that whomever the Red Sox settle on will be the right choice.

"I guarantee you whoever comes over to manage this great team that we have, it's probably gonna be the closest to the perfect person that we could ever get," Martinez said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.