Bobby Valentine spent Monday meeting with new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, and the former Mets manager looks like an increasingly serious candidate to replace Terry Francona in what has become a roller-coaster Boston offseason.

Valentine and Red Sox leadership have even discussed dates for a potential introductory news conference next week, although that doesn't mean a deal has been completed.

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Sports Illustrated reported that Valentine, 61, met with Red Sox vice president of player personnel and professional scouting Allard Baird in addition to Cherington. Valentine has a longstanding relationship with Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, who was talking up Valentine internally even as a public search of other candidates was occurring.

Monday's meeting was designed for Valentine and Cherington to get to know each other better. Cherington's apparent top choice, Dale Sveum, took the Cubs' managerial job after Sveum's meeting with Boston ownership last week in Milwaukee didn't generate an offer from the Red Sox. in Boston reported that the Red Sox will bring back former White Sox and Pirates manager Gene Lamont for a second interview. Phillies coach Pete Mackanin and Indians coach Sandy Alomar Jr. have been eliminated, and Blue Jays coach Torey Lovullo still is believed to be a candidate.

Valentine hasn't managed in the major leagues since the Mets fired him after the 2002 season, ending a successful run that began in 1996. Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Pacific League from 2004-09.

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Both during and after the 2010 season, Valentine discussed the Marlins' managerial job with Florida ownership, but the two sides could never come to an agreement on a contract.