Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo remains in limbo and the Cubs' managerial search is temporarily on hold as a dispute over his availability to them is being waged between the Red Sox and Cubs.

The Cubs have been denied permission to ask about Lovullo's availability for their managerial job, at least for now, as Red Sox higher-ups are claiming their agreement to allow Theo Epstein to leave to become Cubs president prohibits him from hiring away Red Sox employees.

Lovullo, the Red Sox bench coach, would appear to be a serious managerial candidate for the Cubs -- if only he was given a chance by his current bosses. But at this point, Red Sox management isn't allowing Epstein to ask for permission to interview Lovullo.

The Cubs were hoping to have a manager in place by the GM meetings next week in Orlando, so the goal was to hire a manager this week. If they believe it's worth waiting for Lovullo, that may not happen.

The Cubs are said to have been impressed with a few of the men they've already interviewed, and it's believed that Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Padres executive A.J. Hinch are among those being most strongly considered. They are "in the mix," said someone familiar with the situation.

The sticky situation involving Lovullo was first mentioned by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com.

Lovullo, Epstein, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and Red Sox president Larry Lucchino didn't immediately return texts.

It isn't known whether there is a time frame by which the Red Sox can prevent hires by Chicago. But it has been two years since Epstein left.