BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox, who have been without a general manager since Theo Epstein walked away on Halloween, are planning a “restructuring” of their front office that could result in two of his former assistants sharing the GM job through the 2006 season.

The Boston Herald, citing multiple sources it did not identify, first reported on Friday that Ben Cherington, the director of player development, and assistant GM Jed Hoyer will fill the post for the next season.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino declined to comment on the report but said that a restructuring “will be one result, to be sure.”

“After interviewing external candidates, we have been examining internal possibilities and restructuring,” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Saturday. “We are not commenting on specific individuals, however, and are not prepared to make any announcements.”

Once the youngest GM in baseball history and still the only one to build a World Series champion in Boston, Epstein decided not to renew his contract after three years and a franchise-record three consecutive playoff appearances. Although he did not state his reason, reports focused on a falling out with Lucchino, his longtime mentor.

Among those who interviewed to replace Epstein were Jim Beattie, former Orioles executive vice president; Washington Nationals’ general manager Jim Bowden; David Wilder, the White Sox director of player development and former Dodgers GM Dan Evans.

Jeremy Kapstein, a Lucchino confident, and Bill Lajoie, the former Tigers GM who has been a special adviser to Epstein, were also floated for the position. Lajoie, 71, said at the recent winter meetings that he was not interested in the job, and special assistant to the GM Craig Shipley has reportedly also said he doesn’t want the promotion.

The Red Sox sent a four-person crew to the general managers’ meetings in November, and had a similar four-man group at the winter meetings this month in Dallas. Lajoie worked as the point man for the group, and various deals were assigned to individual members of the “Four Horsemen” to pursue.

The four – Lajoie, Shipley, the 32-year-old Hoyer and the 31-year-old Cherington – said the arrangement worked well.

After trading shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta, Lajoie said he made sure to get some of the youngsters into the room with John Schuerholz so they would get the experience of dealing with the longtime Braves GM.

“That was the point of it,” Lajoie said. “Let’s learn how to make a trade here.”

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