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Originally published November 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 11, 2008 at 12:07 AM

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Mariners reveal seven finalists for manager

There is no great mystery for Jim Riggleman about why he won't get a second chance to manage the Mariners.

Seattle Times staff reporter

There is no great mystery for Jim Riggleman about why he won't get a second chance to manage the Mariners.

Riggleman was told by Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik over the weekend that he was no longer being considered. Neither is any other person with previous experience as a field boss, since the Mariners announced Monday they are considering seven first-time candidates for their vacancy.

There was no second opportunity for Riggleman to state his case during the weekend phone conversation with Zduriencik. He'd already had a chance to do that a couple of weeks ago and realizes that being the manager of record for the 101-loss Mariners in 2008 failed to help his candidacy.

"We just didn't win enough games," said Riggleman, who took over from the fired John McLaren on June 19.

Barring last-minute additions, Seattle's newest manager will be one of these seven candidates: Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills; Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale; Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale; White Sox bench coach Joey Cora; Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo; Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu; or Class AAA Portland manager Randy Ready.

Four of the candidates — DeMarlo Hale, Wakamatsu, Oquendo and Cora — fulfill the Major League Baseball mandate that strong, visible minority candidates be considered, while Cora and Wakamatsu also have previous ties to the Mariners. A new manager could be named by next week.

"At this moment in time, I don't intend to reach out to anyone else," Zduriencik told reporters in a conference call Monday.

The decision to announce the seven candidates is a marked departure from the relative secrecy of the past five years under previous GM Bill Bavasi. As recently as a few weeks ago, when the GM search was still under way, the Mariners had declined to disclose the list of candidates for that job.

The announcement appears to signal a willingness to be more open at a time when president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln have come under increased fire from fans.

Zduriencik told reporters it's partly a coincidence that none of the candidates has any prior major-league managerial experience. But Zduriencik added that all seven have had experience working for winning organizations.

"Every great manager in the big leagues got his start somewhere," Zduriencik said.

On Monday, Mills became the first candidate to interview, spending 2 ½ hours with Zduriencik over lunch and a question-and-answer session.

"I enjoyed it," Mills said. "I think they were very prepared with the questions, and I hope they feel I was very prepared with my answers as well."

Mills roomed with Red Sox manager Terry Francona in college at Arizona, and also played on the Montreal Expos with him and served on his coaching staffs in Philadelphia and Boston.

"Terry does a great job," Mills said. "Anybody that's on Terry's staff is able to glean from Terry how prepared he is. ... How he handles his people and how he handles his players is very important."

Cora, who played here from 1995 to 1998, is scheduled to interview this morning, followed by Chip Hale in the afternoon.

Wakamatsu, a Mariners minor-league catcher in 1995 and 1996 and a finalist for the Texas Rangers managerial position two years ago, will be interviewed on Wednesday afternoon. While not wanting to comment on any specifics until after that interview, he did say his previous experience going for the Rangers job should help.

"I think every situation is different," he said. "It just depends on the people who are in charge and the organization's needs and whatever. But sure, going through it once makes it easier the second time around."

Zduriencik left open the possibility that another candidate or two could be added to the list, though it's not going to be former Brewers manager Ned Yost or ex-Mets manager — and new Milwaukee bench coach — Willie Randolph. Zduriencik hasn't spoken to either in weeks.

Onetime Mets manager Bobby Valentine, another rumored candidate, was never contacted by the Mariners.

Zduriencik could invite one or two candidates back for a second round of interviews, though he also said it may not be needed.

Of the qualities his candidates have in common, Zduriencik said leadership ability and "a winning track record" were items he sought. He added that he also wants "guys who can handle major-league players."

Outgoing manager Riggleman gave it his best effort in that department. He hopes players take away one message from him that he'd stressed repeatedly.

"I was adamant with players that if you want to pitch more, you've got to pitch more effectively," he said. "If you want more at-bats, then hit more. The same goes with the manager. If you want to manage longer, you have to manage more effectively.

"Basically, it comes down to wins and losses. I asked players to look into the mirror, so I have to look in the mirror. I really believe that."

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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