BOSTON -- Although the Red Sox struggled mightily in the late stages of Ben Cherington's term as general manager, the 2013 World Series championship banner that hangs at Fenway Park will serve as a constant reminder of what he accomplished.
Dave Dombrowski is taking over as president of baseball operations, effective immediately. Cherington, who was also a key front office member for the championships of 2004 and '07, declined the club's offer to stay on as GM, but he will be remembered fondly by those he worked with.
"I've known Ben my whole time with the Red Sox," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He's a big part of a lot of things in my career. I've got a lot of memories. Obviously this is new. We're going to miss him. I'm going to miss him. He has a lot of special relationships with guys. It's tough."
The Red Sox still felt Cherington could be a valued voice under Dombrowski. But Cherington ultimately chose a different path.
"I was hoping as late as this afternoon that Ben would stay," Dombrowski told ESPN.com. "I was prepared for him to stay, but I understand his reasons for not staying."
The hiring of Dombrowski was announced by a press release in the late innings of Tuesday's 9-1 win over the Indians.
Club president Sam Kennedy relayed the news to the team after the game, and interim manager Torey Lovullo also spoke to the players.
"This is all such fresh news to me," Lovullo said. "I basically just found out exactly what happened a short time ago. At this point, I really don't know many of the details. I don't know what happened or what the process is. What I want to say is that my personal relationship with Ben Cherington was very special. He was a great leader and a great man, and we're sorry to see him moving in a different direction."
Any time a franchise makes a major move like this in mid-August, it's a sign that things aren't going the way anybody wants.
"I've known Ben my whole career, since I got drafted," said right-hander Clay Buchholz. "He was the Minor League [farm director] at the time. Ben never had a hand in the way we played or the level that we played at. Obviously you'd have to be stupid not to understand that it wasn't his fault. It's the players in here.
"A little bit of a shock, I guess, that it happened tonight. As long as I've been here, we have a meeting in Spring Training every year, and ownership comes in and says they've built teams to win baseball games and win championships. Obviously when it's going like it is or has gone this year, they felt like there just needed to be a change."
For the Red Sox, it has been a trying few weeks. On Aug. 2, Larry Lucchino announced he was stepping down as the club's president/CEO at the end of the season. Last week, manager John Farrell announced he has Stage 1 lymphoma and he started chemotherapy treatments on Tuesday.
"It's been an awkward week to say the least, starting with obviously John's news," said Lovullo. "We were just moving forward from that, and then today's news. It's been tough. What I said to the team a few minutes ago is that despite this news, despite these tough circumstances, we have to go out there representing the Boston Red Sox to the best of our abilities. We have to go out there and compete every night, and we've got to win baseball games.
"Those are my expectations. I also mentioned to them that they're going to be evaluated and we're moving forward the exact same way. I just asked that they separate all of this turmoil that's surrounding them right now and set up their sights for 7 o'clock each night because we have a lot of good work to do the remainder of this year."
When the clubhouse opened after Tuesday's game, the players were still processing the news.
"It's really surprising," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "Ben has been the GM for a while. It's surprising. Ben did a great job for us here."
"Ben is a great person and a great GM," said Buchholz. "It was fun to get to know him over the last 10 years, really. Yeah, just one of those things that whenever things aren't going right, they find a way to try to fix that."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.