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10/27/2003  5:06 PM ET 
Red Sox, Grady Little to part ways
Club will not exercise option on manager's contract

BOSTON, MA -- The Boston Red Sox today announced that they will not exercise the option on Manager Grady Little's contract and will seek a new manager for the 2004 season.

Little guided the club to 93 wins in 2002, 95 in 2003, and to victory over the Oakland A's in the American League Division Series before the New York Yankees eliminated the Red Sox in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series.

"Grady Little was just what the doctor ordered when we came here," said President/CEO Larry Lucchino, who made the announcement. "He took over a clubhouse not known for its harmony and brought unity and an atmosphere of winning. He successfully read the personality of our players and led them in an intense, sustained competition from which they never quit.

"We will now seek a new manager for the long term to take us in a new direction, and, we hope, to the next level. The decision to make a change resulted from months of thought about that long-term direction."

Ever since the regular season ended, Principal Owner John W. Henry, Chairman Tom Werner, Lucchino, and Senior Vice-President/General Manager Theo Epstein have discussed baseball philosophy and strategy aimed at winning a World Championship for Boston. Ideas and positions were varied. Henry, for example, took the position well before the post-season that the club may need to question a long-term commitment to its manager.

"John, Tom, and I met with Theo, and had substantial dialogue and discussion before reaching a consensus," Lucchino said. "This ownership group prefers an increased reliance on thorough, more comprehensive analysis and preparation so that the manager's decisions are more synchronous with our player acquisition and development decisions. We seek one, unified, organizational philosophy."

Epstein said about the review process, "We all have different backgrounds, different access to the clubhouse, and different perspectives on the game. We got together, discussed the issues thoroughly, reached a consensus, and now we'll move forward together.

"We are proud of Grady for his accomplishments in his two years as our manager. He is a good man, a good person, who deserves our gratitude, and we wish him well as he continues his baseball career. I looked upon Grady and myself as a team, and we worked many hours together to do our very best for the Red Sox. I'll always be grateful for his help and his friendship."

"Sports franchises often have difficult decisions to make regarding great individuals," Henry said. "Sometimes these moves are popular; sometimes they are not. We have an obligation, however, to keep our eye on the ball and stay focused on how to achieve a World Championship for the people of Boston and New England. There is no doubt that Grady Little was a great asset to the club in his two years of managing, and we wish him nothing but the best."

"The process that led to this decision was extensive and participatory," Werner said. "Each of us offered thoughts based on our experiences and listened carefully to one another. In the end, we made this decision together and remain of one mind."

"We want to acknowledge and thank Grady's great wife, Debi, who devoted so much of herself and her time to leading the Red Sox Wives," Lucchino said. "Their charitable efforts are well documented, but what is just as appreciated was the support and leadership she fostered for the wives of our players."

The club has set no timetable for the search for and hiring of a new manager.



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