Mariners have eyes on winners

Mariners have eyes on winners

SEATTLE -- One thing's certain about the Mariners' managerial search: Whoever gets the job will be handling it on the Major League level for the first time.

But, as Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said after launching his interview process Monday, experience in a big league hot seat isn't as important a qualification as experience with successful organizations.

"Every great manager starts somewhere," Zduriencik said.

Each of the Mariners' seven candidates has the winning pedigree Zduriencik seeks. Four have coached on World Series-winning clubs: Chicago White Sox third-base coach Joey Cora, Boston Red Sox third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, St. Louis Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo and Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, who interviewed Monday with Zduriencik.

Two other candidates, Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach Chip Hale and Oakland A's bench coach Don Wakamatsu, were on the Minor League staffs of the D-backs (2001) and Angels (2002), respectively, when those teams won the Series. And Randy Ready, who manages San Diego's Triple-A Portland affiliate, won a Texas League championship with San Antonio in 2007.

"Anytime you get a new guy, they're always going to come in with a lot of energy and they'e going to be very positive," Mills said.

All have managed in the Minors except Oquendo, who piloted Puerto Rico's team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. None of the seven has direct ties to Zduriencik, who spent the previous nine seasons with Milwaukee as a scouting and player personnel executive.

Zduriencik observed that the lack of Major League managerial experience among the candidates was purely a coincidence and confirmed that Jim Riggleman, who finished 2008 as Seattle's interim manager, and Willie Randolph would not be interviewed. Zduriencik didn't rule out adding a candidate or two to the field, but said, "At this moment in time I don't intend to reach out to anyone else."

Zduriencik hopes to finish his first round of interviews by the weekend and will continue the process Tuesday by meeting with Cora and Chip Hale. Cora is the lone finalist with a Mariners background, having played for them from 1995-98. Zduriencik said "that's possible" when asked if he might not need to conduct a second round of interviews.

Mills, 51, has spent the last five seasons in his current position with Boston alongside his teammate and roommate at the University of Arizona, manager Terry Francona. He also was Francona's first-base coach in Philadelphia from 1997-2000 and spent 2003 as Montreal's bench coach. Primarily a third baseman during his playing career, Mills managed 11 seasons in the Minors for the Cubs (1987-92), Rockies (1993-96) and Dodgers (2002), leading Triple-A Colorado Springs to the Pacific Coast League title in 1995.

After emerging from his 2 1/2-hour meeting with Zduriencik, Mills said that he perceived the Mariners are seeking "a guy with a lot of energy and knowledge ... and who has been through the experience of winning championships."

That's something Mills achieved in 2004 and '07 as Francona's top lieutenant. Mills indicated that he has paid close attention to Francona's methods, such as "how prepared he is for each day and his passion not only for the game itself but also the players and organization."

Mills insisted that vying for the Seattle job along with fellow Red Sox coach DeMarlo Hale wasn't at all awkward. "He's the type of guy I think anybody would want on their staff," Mills said.

In other Mariners news, Zduriencik named Tom McNamara as director of amateur scouting and Carmen Fusco director of pro scouting. Also, Tony Blengino was appointed a special assistant to the general manager.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.