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Originally published November 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 6, 2008 at 12:49 AM

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Larry Stone

Mariners might begin manager interviews next week

The Mariners' managerial search is heating up, which means that Jack Zduriencik's list is being whittled. Zduriencik, the Mariners' new...

Seattle Times baseball reporter

DANA POINT, Calif. — The Mariners' managerial search is heating up, which means that Jack Zduriencik's list is being whittled.

Zduriencik, the Mariners' new general manager, said he has compiled a master list of about 32 names of potential candidates.

He's flying home from the general manager's meetings this morning to meet with team president Chuck Armstrong, and hopes to emerge with five to seven candidates to begin interviewing next week.

"I certainly have ideas now of what I want to do and who I want to talk to," Zduriencik said. "I've talked to a few general managers informally about the possibility of me calling them next week to begin the search and discussion."

So far, however, Zduriencik has not asked for permission to speak to any candidates.

Bobby Valentine, who has a clause in his contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan that gives him until Nov. 20 to decide if he wants to return next year, remains an intriguing possibility. Valentine, who won a National League pennant managing the Mets in 2000, had not been contacted by the Mariners as of Wednesday.

"Bobby's a very interesting candidate," Zduriencik said. "He and I go way back. Where I go with that, I don't know yet. I'm not positive. But we have a history together with the Mets, and I've certainly kept up with his career."

Zduriencik is likely to interview a Red Sox coach, but which one remains up in the air. They have three who are highly regarded as managerial candidates — bench coach Brad Mills, pitching coach John Farrell, and third-base coach DeMarlo Hale.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is said to be somewhat conflicted about which one to push as the top candidate. He is particularly tight with Mills, a former roommate in their playing days.

"We have a lot of strong candidates, talented guys who could be successful managers," said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. "Out of respect for Jack, I'll wait until he moves the process along before I comment any further."

Farrell is a former major-league pitcher who served as farm director in Cleveland before moving to Boston as pitching coach in 2007, a season that resulted in a World Series title for the Red Sox.

"I see John as one of the few guys in the game that there's no limit to what he could do," Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro said. "He could be one of the best general managers in the game, and he could be one of the best managers in the game."

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Zduriencik noted again that before being hired by the Mariners, he sat in on Willie Randolph's recent interview for the then-vacant Brewers' managerial opening.

"I found him to be very professional," he said. "I felt I got a little jump on the situation in Seattle due to the fact I got to sit with him a couple of weeks ago."

Is Randolph a potential candidate? "Possible. Possible," Zduriencik said.

Mets GM Omar Minaya, who fired Randolph during the season, said he would nonetheless give him a high recommendation if asked.

"First of all, I hope Willie gets a managerial job," Minaya said. "I'll be supportive of him, and recommend him. Like anything else, the more you do something, the more you learn, and you'll be better the second time around."

Other potential candidates include former Brewers manager Ned Yost, and former Pirates manager Lloyd McLendon. Yost has an obvious connection to Zduriencik, while the GM knows McLendon from his playing days in Pittsburgh, when Zduriencik worked in the Pirates' organization.

"I'm very proud of the job Lloyd did when he had a chance to manage," he said. "We know each other and have always gotten along well."

McLendon is hitting coach for the Tigers, whose GM, Dave Dombrowski, said: "I've been very impressed with Lloyd as a baseball man. He's a good person, a hard worker, knowledgeable. He seems to get along with people, but he can also be tough. He has a presence in the room. If I was with another organization looking for a manager, he'd be a person I'd consider."

Jim Riggleman, who finished the season as the Mariners' manager after John McLaren was fired in June, remains under consideration as well.

"I will certainly have another conversation with Jimmy," Zduriencik said.

Notes

• Zduriencik said he hoped to talk to Scott Boras, agent for No. 1 draft pick Josh Fields as well as free agent Willie Bloomquist, but by late afternoon they still hadn't hooked up. Zduriencik flies back to Seattle early this morning.

• Baseball America came out Wednesday with its list of the Baltimore Orioles' top 10 prospects, and it's another painful reminder of the Erik Bedard trade. No. 2 is pitcher Chris Tillman, and No. 10 is pitcher Kam Mickolio, both of whom came over from the Mariners for Bedard, along with reliever George Sherrill, who made the All-Star team last year, Adam Jones, the Orioles' starting center fielder, and pitcher Tony Butler.

Baseball America forecast Tillman as the Orioles' No. 1 starter in 2012. The Orioles' top prospect — and one of the best in the major leagues — is catcher Matt Wieters.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Larry Stone
Larry Stone gives an inside look at the national baseball scene every Sunday. Look for his weekly power rankings during the season.
lstone@seattletimes.com

UPDATE - 10:00 PM
Larry Stone: Young pitcher Michael Pineda offers glimpse of exciting future for Mariners

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