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.

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Farrell defends Sox' shoulder program, but he first raised the issue

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t scream “fake news" on Tuesday,  but he might as well have.

The only problem is he seems to be forgetting his own words, and his reliever’s.

Righty Tyler Thornburg is starting his Red Sox career on the disabled list because of a shoulder impingement. 

Another Dave Dombrowski pitching acquisition, another trip to the disabled list. Ho hum.

But the reason Thornburg is hurt, Farrell said, has nothing to do with the Red Sox’ shoulder program -- the same program Farrell referenced when talking about Thornburg earlier this month.

“There’s been a lot written targeting our shoulder program here,” Farrell told reporters on Tuesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “I would discount that completely. He came into camp, he was throwing the ball extremely well, makes two appearances. They were two lengthy innings in which inflammation flared up to the point of shutting him down. But in the early work in spring training, he was throwing the ball outstanding. So to suggest that his situation or his symptoms are now the result of our shoulder program, that’s false.”

Let’s go back to March 10, when Farrell was asked in his usual pregame session with reporters about Thornburg’s status.

"He is throwing long-toss out to 120 feet today," Farrell said that day. “He’s also been going through a strength and conditioning phase, arm-wise. What we encounter with guys coming from other organizations, and whether it's Rick [Porcello], David [Price], guys that come in, and they go through our shoulder maintenance program, there's a period of adaptation they go through, and Tyler’s going through that right now. We're also going to get him on the mound and get some fundamental work with his delivery and just timing, and that's soon to come in the coming days. Right now it's long toss out to 120 feet.”

So Farrell volunteered, after Thornburg was taken out of game action, that the shoulder program appeared involved. 

Maybe that turned out not to be the case. But Farrell's the one who put this idea out there.

On March 11, Farrell was asked to elaborate about other pitchers who needed adjusting to how the Red Sox do their shoulder program.

“Rick Porcello is an example of that. Joe Kelly,” Farrell said. “And that's not to say that our program is the end-all, be-all, or the model for which everyone should be compared. That's just to say that what we do here might be a little more in-depth based on a conversation with the pitchers, that what they've experienced and what we ask them to do here. And large in part, it's with manual resistance movements on the training table. These are things that are not maybe administered elsewhere, so the body goes through some adaptation to get to that point. 

“So, in other words, a pitcher that might come in here previously, he pitched, he’s got recovery time and he goes and pitches again. There's a lot of work and exercise in between the outings that they may feel a little fatigued early on. But once they get those patterns, and that consistent work, the body adapts to it and their recovery times become much shorter. And it's one of the reasons we've had so much success keeping pitchers healthy and on the field.”

Except that Kelly has had a shoulder impingement in his time with the Red Sox, last April, and so too now does Thornburg.

In quotes that appeared in a March 12 story, Thornburg himself told the Herald’s Michael Silverman that he didn’t understand the Red Sox throwing program.

Thornburg said that after the December trade, he was sent a list of exercises from the training staff. The message he did not receive was that all of the exercises were to be performed daily.

“I kind of figured that this is a list of the exercises they incorporated, I didn’t think this is what they do all in one day,” said Thornburg. “I thought, ‘here’s a list of exercises, learn them, pick five or six of them,’ because that was pretty much what we did in Milwaukee.”

But according to Farrell, Thornburg’s current state has nothing to do with the program -- the same one Farrell himself cited when directly asked about Thornburg before.

Maybe the program was the wrong thing to point to originally. But Farrell did point to it.

"This is all still in line with the shoulder fatigue, the shoudler impingement and the subsequent inflammation that he's dealing with. That’s the best I can tell you at this point," Farrell said Tuesday. "Anytime a player, and we've had a number of players come in, when you come into a new organization, there's a period where guys adapt. Could it have been different from what he's done in the past? Sure. But to say it's the root cause, that’s a little false. That’s a lot false, and very short-sighted."

Hey, he started it.

Thornburg is not to throw for a week before a re-evaluation.

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.