Hendry feels relaxed, praises Theo hire

Jim Hendry said Theo Epstein was one of the first to call him after he was fired in July. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Former Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was an interested observer to the recent rage of "Theo-Mania" that has hit Wrigley Field since the Cubs hired Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations on Oct. 21.

Hendry, who was fired as general manager by chairman Tom Ricketts on July 22, remained on the job until mid-August to fulfill team obligations. He said Wednesday he was refreshed after two months of rest and relaxation.

"I feel wonderful," Hendry told ESPNChicago.com. "I've cleared my head and paid attention to my family and friends, as well as my health.

"I've been able to enjoy all the things I haven't had time for the last 17 years."

Hendry began his career with the Cubs as the director of player development in 1995 after working for the Florida Marlins for four years as a scout.

He eventually became the Cubs' scouting director and assistant GM, and then general manager in 2002.

Hendry and Epstein took GM positions at the same time and developed a strong working relationship and friendship.

"Tom Ricketts did the city of Chicago and the Cubs organization a great service by hiring Theo," Hendry said. "He's a great baseball man and a great person.

"Besides bringing in his good people, he's also inheriting terrific people who are working for the team. Tom and his family certainly hit a home run in their choice. If you had to choose someone to replace you, Theo would be at the top of the list."

Hendry agreed with Epstein's statement on Oct. 25 that after 10 years in a baseball position things may start to deteriorate. Epstein was referring to his own situation with the Boston Red Sox.

"I agree with what Theo said," Hendry said. "[Former Cubs president] Andy MacPhail first told me the shelf life in this job is no longer than 10 years. I had almost every front office position in my 17 years with the Cubs. It was a long time with a lot of different roles, including three different owners.

"Looking at it now, I think [Ricketts' decision to fire him] was the right thing to do. We got close a few times to winning, but now a change of scenery looks good for everyone involved."

Hendry was a journalism major in college and has been approached for TV and radio jobs, but he's also heard from baseball GMs who want to know when he'll be able to take another baseball job. Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had meetings with Hendry and talked to him about his baseball future.

"Both Bud and Jerry have always been good friends to me," Hendry said. "Andy MacPhail helped me to get to know them both, and we know how well respected Andy is. Their message to me was pretty similar; basically, take some time off, relax, and when you're ready to get back in, you'll get back in. Both said to me that I belonged in the game and that was very flattering."

What does Hendry foresee in the future?

"I don't have a blueprint for what I'd like to do," Hendry said. "I've had a lot of calls from friends in the game, who graciously said, 'When you're ready to work, let me know.'"

Epstein was one of the first to call Hendry when he was fired.