Theo Epstein updates Cubs' search

Sandy Alomar Jr. is scheduled to become the fourth candidate to interview for the Chicago Cubs' managerial vacancy on Friday. During a conference call Thursday with season-ticket holders, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein provided an update on where the process stands.

"The manager is a very important piece of the puzzle," Epstein said. "He's the leader of the major league club. I'd say we are moving forward with that, and we are probably in the sixth inning of the process. We have another candidate or more, then we will move forward into the decision-making phase. We will eventually catch him up to our process and our plans and get his input as well as we move forward."

One caller inquired what type of attributes Epstein is looking for in a manager.

"In the real world, it's hard to find a candidate that has everything you're looking for," Epstein said. "What you do is you weigh your variables and make your sacrifices where you have to. Often times, if you're going to take a candidate without previous managerial experience, even at the minor league level, he has to represent real upside in other areas. In that case, you have to do even more due diligence than you normally would because you're projecting him into that role."

Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin was the first person to interview for the vacancy. Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum was second, and Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux interviewed with the team Wednesday.

It's unclear at this point if former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is a candidate for the Cubs job. Francona was vague about his interest in the position in an interview with the Chicago Tribune on Thursday.

"I'm comfortable letting Theo take care of this; he's the boss," Francona said Thursday by phone.

A major league source told ESPNChicago.com a week ago that because the Cubs' executives know Francona and vice-versa, a formal interview wouldn't be necessary if the Cubs decided to hire him.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.