Red Sox begin interview process with Mackanin

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Red Sox begin interview process with Mackanin

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.

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

MORE RED SOX

At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.