BOSTON The Red Sox did something on Monday they have not had to do for eight years: interview a managerial candidate.
Pete Mackanin was the first prospect the Sox called in their search to replace Terry Francona, whose eight-season tenure ended Sept. 30. Mackanins day began at about 9 a.m. and was scheduled to continue after his early evening meeting with the media.
It went very well, Mackanin said. They were very accommodating. There were some interesting exercises to go through. But, it went very well as far as Im concerned.
The interview process included game simulations and analyses.
We picked bits and pieces of two or three different games and provided Pete with some info on situations and let him talk to us about what he would be seeing and thinking about during the game, said general manager Ben Cherington.
Mackanin, 60, has paid his dues. For the past three seasons, he has served as Charlie Manuels bench coach in Philadelphia. He has spent parts of two seasons managing in the majors, both on an interim basis. In 2005 he took over the Pirates job from Lloyd McClendon, going 12-14. In 2007, he took over the Reds job from Jerry Narron, going 41-39. Mackanin managed in the minors for 13 seasons, winning league championships in 1995 with Ottawa in the International League and in 2002 with Lynchburg in the Carolina. In 1995 he was named the Sporting News minor league manager of the year. He has also managed in Venezuela for two seasons, leading his team to the 1988-89 Caribbean Series championships; in the Dominican Winter League and in the Puerto Rico Winter league.
He has served as an advance scout for the Reds and a pro scout for the Yankees. He began his major league coaching career in 1997 with the Expos, serving as third base coach for seven seasons, and the Pirates bench coach for three seasons.
Hes got a really broad set of experiences, Cherington said. Managed a ton of games in the minor leagues, Caribbean, some on the big-league level. Hes been off the field as a scout and hes been part of good Major League teams as a coach. So hes got a really broad set of experiences that appeal to us. He can see the game from different perspectives which I think is a benefit. Hes got a real sort of good way about him, good sense of humor, mature, and a good reputation from every clubhouse that hes been a part of. So we wanted to get a chance to know him better and this is a good opportunity to do it.
I was impressed by him as a person. Hes certainly got a good sense of who he is. Hes got a good sort of maturity about him, wisdom, baseball wisdom. Hes been through a lot in this game--all different sorts of jobs in all different sorts of places and he's got some tricks up his sleeve I think because of those experiences and hes a pleasant guy to talk to and clearly has a feel for players and what they need. So it was a good chance to get to know him and hopefully a good chance for him to get to know us.
Mackanin, primarily an infielder with a handful of games in the outfield, spent parts of nine seasons playing for the Rangers, Expos, Phillies, and Twins. A fourth-round pick of the Senators in 1969, his manager in his first big league camp was Ted Williams.
Williams and Manuel are just two of the managerial influences he draws upon.
I played for Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Dick Williams, Bobby Cox, Gene Mauch, Dallas Green, Danny Ozark, he said. I dont want to leave any of them out, but a lot of pretty good managers that had a lot of success. And I've taken a little something from everything. I think the guy that probably meant a lot to me was Gene Mauch, just the way he treated position players. He didnt like pitchers that much but a position player, he really made us feel like we were pretty good players. I take a little bit from everybody.
I coached third for Felipe Alou and he had a certain way about him that was interesting . . . He was a pretty good communicator and motivator. And Lloyd McClendon was a good motivator in his own way.
Cherington has said he would like a manager with a strong voice. Mackanin was asked if he sees himself more as a players manager or disciplinarian.
I consider myself both, he said. I think you have to have an element of both sides of that in order to be a good motivator. To me its like the way you handle your kids. I used to tell my son I wear two caps. One has a D on it and one has a P on it. One is for Dad the other is for Pal. When i got the P cap on were pals. When I put the D cap on you do what I tell you. I think theres a factor thats involved in that to where you have to have enough discipline but at the same time let the players play easy. You dont want them tense.
Mackanin followed the Sox historic September collapse from afar, focusing more on his own teams issues.
Although the Phillies did win 102 games, we still were concerned about a few things, he said. We didnt worry about the Boston Red Sox. We were worried about the Philadelphia Phillies. As far as what occurred, i only hear bits and pieces and Im really not interested at this point. If I get the job, Im going to deal with it with Ben.
Mackanin has also heard of the unseemly behavior in the clubhouse during games. But, thats a matter for another time, further along in the process, he said.
Apart from his two interim stints as manager, this was Mackanins second time interviewing for a big league managing job. He was also a candidate for the Astros job that went to former Sox bench coach Brad Mills in 2009.
I would like to think that after 43 years in the game, if you read my resume, Im pretty well-rounded and Ive done just about everything, Mackanin said. So is it going to hurt to ask me a few questions? Look at my success. Ive had a winning record, won a Caribbean World Series, won some championships in the minor leagues and been on some pretty good teams in the major leagues.
The Sox will bring in Dale Sveum, Milwaukees hitting coach who was the Sox third base coach in 2004 and 2005, to interview on Wednesday. Cherington has said he would like to meet with at least five or six candidates in the first round, but has not asked permission to speak with anyone else yet. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale and third base coach Tim Bogar are two potential in-house candidates, but Cherington has not made a decision on that yet.
We havent ruled it out, he said. But I can't say that that will happen for sure.
With Tony LaRussa announcing his retirement Monday, the Sox competition for managerial candidates increased. The Cardinals are the only other team with an open managers spot, but that could change if Mike Quade is released by the Cubs. Cherington does not expect that to impact the Sox process, though.
If we sort of narrow in on someone we want to hire, it becomes hire that guy before someone else does, Cherington said. But were nowhere near that and Id much rather take our time and get it right than hurry into one guy or another guy just because we think someone else might be interested.
Hope it doesnt get to December. Well see. Were going to use this week and probably part of next week to have an initial round of interviews and therell probably be follow-ups. So our hope is that we have a manager in place before Thanksgiving. But Francona was hired after Thanksgiving. So well see. I dont want to put a date on it.