By Sean McAdam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One of the topics discussed among baseball's general managers here is the notion of an expanded playoff format which would add a second wild-card team in each league.
That issue was part of a larger discussion focused on upcoming labor talks between MLB and the Players Association. The current pact runs out after the 2011 season.
Any change in the playoff format would require approval of the Players Association. Rob Manfred, baseball's point man in the labor negotiations, made it seem unlikely that an expanded playoff field could be put in place for the 2011 season.
"If there were to be a change in 2011,'' explained Manfred, "it would have to be done as a mid-term modification. That's a difficult trick to pull off. I think that pulling a single issue, in the run-up to bargaining, is, as I said before, a tricky thing to undertake.''
A survey of a number of general managers Tuesday revealed general support for an expanded playoff format, though few were willing to make specific recommendations.
Theo Epstein said the organization continues to interview candidates to manage at Triple-A Pawtucket, a vacancy created by Torey Lovullo being hired to be part of John Farrell's staff in Toronto.
Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who was hired Monday to manage the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, revealed that he had interviewed for the Pawtucket position.
A number of internal candidates are in the running, though Epstein declined to name them. He hinted there could be more interviews coming.
Epstein said the major-league coaching staff is expected to return intact. The club, however, is holding off making an announcement until the New York Mets hire a manager. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed for that position, though it does not seem he's one of the finalists.