– The Associated Press

BOSTON – Ben Cherington was in his first year in a major league front office — as an advance scout for the Cleveland Indians — when he came across Sandy Alomar Jr.

“He didn’t know who I was in ’98 with Cleveland,” said Cherington, who is now the Red Sox general manager and leading the search for a new manager in Boston. “But I saw him in the clubhouse — I was in the clubhouse all the time — and I saw the leader he was back then, the respect he had in that clubhouse. I’ve been sort of following him since then.”

It was that respect that led Cherington to add Alomar to the short list of candidates interviewing to replace Terry Francona as the Red Sox manager. Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin have been in to discuss the job; former Pirates and White Sox manager Gene Lamont and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo are scheduled later this week.

Cherington said he hasn’t ruled out additional candidates.

Alomar, who spent parts of 20 seasons catching in the majors — most notably as the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year and a six-time All-Star for the Indians — has been the first base coach in Cleveland for two seasons. He is the only candidate the Red Sox have acknowledged who has no managerial experience.

“His name kept coming up as a guy with a ton of respect in baseball,” Cherington said. “We felt that in spite of the lack of managerial experience, it was worth getting to know him better. He’s going to be a major league manager. Whether that’s in 2012 or sometime after that, I’m very confident to say that he’ll be a big league manager sometime.”

The Red Sox parted ways with Francona after the unprecedented September collapse. After allegations of players fattening up on fried chicken and beer during games, each managerial candidate has been grilled by reporters on his approach to clubhouse discipline.

“The goal for a manager is to let your players manage themselves. In order to do that, you have to let the guys play,” he said. “I am a guy that lets the players play the game. You have some rules, but you respect the players (and) they respect you back.”

Alomar, 45, also played for the Padres, White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets. He had a lifetime average of .273 with 112 homers and 588 RBI.

He said he has played for nine managers, all of whom reached the postseason in their careers; six of them reached the World Series, and two of them won it. His father, Sandy Alomar Sr., spent 15 seasons in the majors as a second baseman, and his brother, Roberto, is in the Hall of Fame.

So it’s no surprise that when asked to describe his managerial style, he said, “I like the family atmosphere.”

“We are a family. We bonded — coaches, players,” he said. “That’s the way I would handle it.”

 

JORGE POSADA said there’s no chance he will be back with the New York Yankees next year and his choice is move on to another team or retire.

Speaking before his foundation’s annual dinner, Posada said his agents had heard from about a half-dozen teams who expressed interest.

 

DIAMONDBACKS: Arizona signed infielder Willie Bloomquist to a two-year, $3.8 million deal.

Bloomquist became a free agent when he turned down his end of a $1.1 million mutual option Nov. 1. He signed with Arizona last offseason and became the everyday shortstop when Stephen Drew broke his ankle July 20.

 

MARLINS: The team gave free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes a tour of its new ballpark.

The Marlins also are courting left-hander Mark Buehrle, who took a ballpark tour Tuesday. Also, the owner, Jeffrey Loria, and a contingent of team officials plan to visit the Dominican Republic today to watch a private workout by a highly regarded Cuban outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes.

 

YANKEES: General Manager Brian Cashman said it’s too early in the offseason to determine whether he’ll go for a big-name addition to his rotation.

Cashman said the Yankees again could sign low-cost veterans with uncertain value. Prospects such as Hector Noesi, David Phelps, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances also could be looked at in spring training.

 

CUBS: Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux interviewed for the open manager’s job.

Maddux has helped the Rangers win back-to-back AL pennants and is the brother of a former Cubs ace, Greg Maddux, who was an assistant to the former Chicago GM, Jim Hendry.

 

CARDINALS: Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and longtime St. Louis third-base coach Jose Oquendo interviewed for the manager opening.

Both interviews took place in St. Louis.

 

ASTROS: Houston agreed to minor league contracts with outfielder Travis Buck and outfielder-first baseman Nick Stavinoha, and both have been given non-roster invites to spring training.