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Henry Group to Take Over Boston Red Sox Wednesday

Updated:
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) _ The long process of selling the Boston Red Sox should end Wednesday with the official takeover of the team by former Florida Marlins owner John Henry and his group.

That's when the closing is expected to be completed, 16 months after the team was put up for sale. The closing could drag into Thursday, but there was no indication of major problems with the deal.

The incoming owners said they're in no rush to make staff changes, although they would like to have that completed by the end of spring training.

``We don't have a timetable and we're not going to set a timetable,'' incoming president Larry Lucchino said Monday. ``We're just going to do things in what we hope to be an orderly and appropriate way after closing.''

General manager Dan Duquette, whose job is in jeopardy after eight seasons, was absent from training camp for the second straight day Monday. Lucchino said he thought Duquette was expected back in town from Boston on Tuesday.

Henry, standing outside the Red Sox clubhouse, gestured toward Lucchino when asked about upcoming changes.

``He's the man,'' Henry said with a laugh. ``Talk to that man.''

Lucchino wouldn't address the futures of Duquette, manager Joe Kerrigan or any other personnel in management or on the field. After Monday's workout, Henry, Lucchino and Kerrigan chatted for about five minutes at a picnic table outside the clubhouse.

``I don't want to have you guys think that there are going to be radical changes overnight,'' Lucchino told reporters. ``We've had some time to do some planning but no real decision-making will even be discussed in earnest until after the closing.''

He refused comment on whether personnel decisions have been made without them being announced.

The closing will take place in Boston.

``I'm pretty optimistic that it should be Wednesday,'' Lucchino said.

First, he and Tom Werner, both members of Henry's group, must divest themselves of their interest in the San Diego Padres where Lucchino was president last season.

Henry has an agreement to sell his one percent interest in the New York Yankees to the New York Yankees Partnership for between $4 million and $5 million, an unidentified official said.

On Dec. 20, his group's bid of $660 million for the Red Sox and 80 percent of the New England Sports Network plus $40 million in assumed debt was approved by the outgoing owners. The Yawkey Trust, led by John Harrington, owns 53 percent of the team and limited partners own 47 percent. The Yawkey family or the trust has owned the team since 1933.

Major-league baseball owners approved the deal on Jan. 16 by a vote of 29-0 with one abstention, the New York Yankees.

Lucchino said a two-year severance deal with 33 current employees at a cost of about $6 million _ half of that earmarked for Duquette _ was not a major issue.

``It's not something that we have spent a lot of time worrying about,'' Lucchino said. ``It was a condition of the transaction so we just basically accepted it as a fact of life.''

For now, he just wants to get past the closing so the awkwardness of being around camp while the current owners are still in place will be gone.

``There will be changes of some sort on both the baseball and the business side,'' Lucchino said. ``I don't want to dwell on all of that, though, because it's coming close to the line we're trying to sort of stay away from until after closing.''
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