Henry: Theo is not going to be GM forever

Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino declined to confirm that the Chicago Cubs have asked for permission to interview general manager Theo Epstein and would not say whether they would grant it, citing club policy and privacy considerations.

Henry may have offered one hint, however, at how the team will proceed when he said, “I think there is a certain shelf life to these jobs ... Theo is not going to be GM forever.’’

“I think there’s a certain shelf life in these jobs,'' Henry said. "You can only be the general manager if you’re sane. You can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. It’s a tremendous pressure-cooker here, 162 games. It’s a long season, and the pressure here is 365 days.

“So Theo is not going to be the general manager forever. Just as if Tito (Francona) had come back for the last two years, would he have gone past 10 years? I can’t imagine that he would have. I think that Theo will. He’s the guy now, he’s been the guy, we’ve had tremendous success. We fell apart at the end of the season. As Larry expressed, we’re upset about it. No fan could be more upset than I am about the result this year. But he’s done a tremendous job for us over the last eight years.''

Henry was answering questions for the first time since the end of the season, and the departure of manager Terry Francona. He and Lucchino were appearing on the “Dennis and Callahan Show,” which airs on Boston sports radio station WEEI and is simulcast on NESN.

“There's a certain protocol,’’ Henry said when asked about a team asking for permission to speak with Epstein. “If someone asks permission for a job that's not lateral, you give permission.’’

The Cubs reportedly have asked for permission to interview Epstein, and presumably would offer him a position as president and general manager, which would be a promotion.

“We don't mean to sound evasive, but this is one subject we don't believe needs full disclosure,’’ Lucchino said.

Henry said in the past, teams have asked for permission to interview both Epstein and Lucchino for positions; he did not say whether he granted that permission.

Lucchino acknowledged that it is not “desirable” to hire a new manager without some certainty of who the general manager will be, but said the team is “knee-deep” in the process of hiring a replacement for Francona.

Henry, asked whether Francona’s departure was a mutual decision, said: “We really didn’t get a chance to make it mutual. Would we have ended up in the same place he ended up? There’s a strong likelihood we would have.’’

Lucchino said the club was not ruling out older, established managers as candidates to replace Francona. Henry described his ideal candidate as “highly intelligent, communicates with players, gets the best out of players, lean toward a players’ manager.’’

The most important quality?

“That he fits into the organizational philosophy,’’ Henry said.