FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Grady Little knows enough about the turbulent history of the Red Sox to admit his warm welcome won't last if he doesn't win.
"That was touching," he said Monday, one hour after players applauded at the meeting where he was introduced as their new manager. "We'll see what kind of reception I get when I leave in October."
If it's anything like Boston's last 83 seasons -- all completed without a championship -- it will be more subdued. But this season is unlikely to end with the turmoil that swept the clubhouse late last season.
Little, bench coach in Boston from 1997 to 1999 and at Cleveland since then, was hired Monday as the team's third manager in a week and fourth in seven months.
Yet his appointment is another major move in stabilizing the franchise.
The makeover began Feb. 27 when John Henry and his partners bought the team. The next day, they fired general manager Dan Duquette, whose aloof style alienated players. Five days later, they dumped manager Joe Kerrigan, who took over last Aug. 16 when Duquette fired Jimy Williams.
Third-base coach Mike Cubbage became interim manager and interviewed for the job along with Little and former Montreal manager Felipe Alou. At about 11 p.m. EST Sunday, Little learned he got it, then agreed to a two-year contract with club options.
"I laid in the bed with my eyes closed but I couldn't tell you I was sleeping," he said, describing his excitement.
He's the 43rd manager of a club that last won the World Series in 1918, lost a one-game playoff to the New York Yankees in 1978 when Bucky Dent hit a three-run homer, and lost a chance to win the 1986 World Series in Game 6 on Bob Stanley's wild pitch and Bill Buckner's error against the New York Mets.
Now Cleveland must make up for its loss of Little. It plans to hire a bench coach from within the organization.
"I'm really happy for him. That's what he really wanted," manager Charlie Manuel said. Little managed 26 games for the Indians the past two seasons, going 16-10, while Manuel had health problems
Little, 52, reached the majors in 1996 as bullpen coach in San Diego where Boston co-owner Tom Werner was an owner and Larry Lucchino was president, his current role with the Red Sox.
Little's folksy manner, keen baseball mind and 16 years of minor-league managing experience in the Atlanta, Baltimore and Toronto organizations starting in 1980 were key assets. So was his familiarity with current Red Sox players. Twelve of them were on the 1999 team that reached the AL championship series under Williams with Little at his side.
"It's almost like promoting from within. There's something about someone who knows your system," Lucchino said. "That was a significant part of it, but we knew we had several good choices."
Cubbage, 51, ran the team smoothly since last Wednesday and expects to manage against St. Louis on Tuesday and Montreal on Wednesday, both in Jupiter, before Little takes over Thursday night at home against Minnesota.
"He's been deserving of a job for a long time," a gracious Cubbage told reporters. "I guess the next time I talk to you guys is when I get somebody thrown out at the plate."
Cubbage will remain a coach, Lucchino said, and most if not all the coaches are expected to remain.
Alou, 66 was respected in his nine-plus seasons as manager of the Expos before being fired last season.
"I got to talk to him" said Pedro Martinez, who played for Alou in Montreal. "He's OK. Everything is fine."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.