Ben Cherington's Passion, Experience Make Him Strong Potential Replacement for Theo Epstein, Says Dan DuquetteBefore there was Theo Epstein, there was Dan Duquette, and one of the troops in Duquette's army was none other than Ben Cherington, the man thought to be in line to succeed the departing Epstein.

Cherington was recommended to Duquette by Amherst College baseball coach Bill Thurston, who had Cherington as one of his players and as an assistant coach for a year. A subsequent internship in the offices at Fenway Park set Cherington on his way, earning the respect of his first big boss.

"He had a good way about him," Duquette said of the young intern.

Cherington moved from Boston to his first professional gig in Cleveland alongside current Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, also an Amherst product who was the director of player development with the Indians. Huntington moved up the ladder and probably could have pulled Cherington with him, but Duquette was quick to pull him back, giving Cherington his first job with the Red Sox in 1999.

He's been there ever since, watching the club's rise in popularity under Duquette and helping to build the foundation upon which Epstein would claim two World Series crowns. And Cherington was still there when the organization reached its low point, a historic September collapse followed by a circus-like October that has transformed the face of the franchise.

Because of those experiences, Cherington is the right man for the job, Duquette said.

"Every market has its challenges but Ben grew up in New Hampshire so he’s familiar with the Red Sox market and has worked with the team for what, 12, 13 years now?" Duquette said. "He knows his way around the ball club. He gets along with people and is a good judge of talent, has good qualities and skill."

Cherington has served in various capacities with Boston. According to Duquette, Cherington's focus would not stray far from the one his predecessors stressed early in their tenures.

"Ben got the experience he needed at the major-league level, but he got a lot of exposure to scouting and development, which is a good foundation," Duquette said. "The training he got in scouting and player development should help him to be a good major league club exec."

Duquette was the architect of the farm system that produced a wealth of talent in Montreal in the early 1990s, and with the Red Sox he drafted and signed Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Youkilis, Carl Pavano, Hanley Ramirez, Freddy Sanchez, Adam Everett and David Eckstein, among others. Epstein inherited and locked up Youkilis and Jon Lester and corralled Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard in the draft.

Both placed an emphasis on this portion of the position, and Cherington will follow suit if given the opportunity.

In that, and in all other phases of the operation, Ben Cherington is ready. So says the man who brought him into the field and once sat in that high-pressure seat at 4 Yawkey Way.

"Ben has a good mind," Duquette said. "He gets along well with people and he’s an accomplished talent judge. He loves baseball. He’s very passionate about it."