New Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has his work cut out, needing to hire a manager and get his team to recover from a September collapse and well-publicized reports of beer-and-chicken sessions among the starting pitchers.

But Cherington has dealt with a mess before.

In 2003, at the same time the Sea Dogs were becoming one of Boston’s minor league teams, Cherington was promoted to director of player development, overseeing the Red Sox farm system.

And the farm was a disaster.

The previous Red Sox ownership and administration featured poor drafting and rash trades for quick fixes. The result was a depleted farm system with no real sense of purpose.

Cherington, while scurrying to fill minor league rosters with free agents and castoffs from other organizations, was also improving lines of communication between the minor league affiliates and Boston.

Every manager, coach and player knew where they stood with the Red Sox.

“Ben takes it as a personal challenge that each and every player reaches his full potential,” said the new general manager at the time, Theo Epstein.

With the help of Cherington and others, Epstein put together an organizational manual, a how-to book for developing a winning organization.

Now it’s Cherington’s turn to be in charge of implementing the manual.

CHERINGTON IS WELL aware of the Sea Dogs, having visited Portland so much during his days as the farm director.

He has always complimented the Sea Dogs on the way they do business and take care of their players. In terms of protecting the Sea Dogs’ interest as a Red Sox affiliate, there could not have been a better choice to succeed Epstein.

CHERINGTON’S BACKGROUND includes baseball, but only so far as the college level, when he pitched for Amherst.

Cherington, 37, grew up a Red Sox fan, a native of Meriden, N.H., near the Connecticut River. Like other kids, he played Whiffle ball in the backyard, imitating the batting stances of Red Sox players, like Jim Rice, Wade Boggs, Ellis Burks, Dwight Evans and Mike Greenwell.

“I could do them all,” Cherington once told me.

Shoulder surgery ended his pitching career at Amherst.

SEA DOGS TICKETS for individual games go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday at Hadlock Field. Ticket prices remain at $9 (box seats), $8 (reserved) and $7 (general admission), with prices for ages 62-plus and 16-and-under at $8, $7 and $4.

Slugger, the mascot, will be on hand from 10 a.m. to noon. There will be guided tours of Hadlock from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., and fans can take part in a hitting contest, with a home run good for a season ticket.

Phone and internet sales will begin at noon Saturday.

DAN BURKE IS the reason why tickets are available in Portland. He is the foremost reason why the Portland Sea Dogs have been such a benchmark franchise, and an organization that has provided entertainment and pride to this community.

As has been reported, Burke, owner and the original chairman of the Sea Dogs, died Wednesday, the result of complications from Type I diabetes. He was 82.

Burke will obviously be missed, and his legacy celebrated with every ballgame played at Hadlock Field.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases