Cora, Hale among seven to interview for Mariners' manager job

SEATTLE -- Joey Cora spoke quickly and with passion about a franchise he still cares deeply for.

"I know what the fans want. It was fun here when I played," he said Tuesday after interviewing to become manager of the Seattle Mariners. "We were in contention all the years that I was here, and they kept it up after I left. I know how great it can be when things are going well."

A fan favorite when he was Seattle's second baseman, Cora is currently bench coach of the Chicago White Sox. He was the second of seven candidates to interview with new general manager Jack Zduriencik, hoping for the chance to rekindle a franchise that spent more than $100 million on payroll last season and lost 101 games.

Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach Chip Hale interviewed later Tuesday night after running into a pair of flight delays. Even after a conference call with the media at 8 p.m., Hale and Zduriencik planned to meet for another hour.

"It's a great opportunity. This is a great organization and has a tradition. It has won and will win again," Hale said. "I'd love to be a part of that. Just to be in the process is fantastic."

While Hale brings strong credentials, most fans wouldn't mind seeing Cora donning a Mariners uniform again. Cora spent three-plus seasons with Seattle in the mid-'90s as the Mariners became playoff contenders following nearly two decades of futility. Fans still remember when he sat in the dugout with tears running down his face after the Mariners were eliminated by the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the 1995 AL Championship Series.

"I know the town. I know what the fans want. I don't know if that's an advantage," Cora said. "I know what they want and they want a World Series title."

Cora wants the Mariners to become a team the city can take pride in again. He saw talent on Seattle's roster during spring training.

"There has got to be pride [in the] way to play the game," Cora said. "[I want] the fans and organization to feel proud in the way the team plays the game."

That view made an impression on Zduriencik.

"He was very well prepared. He presented himself in a very positive light," Zduriencik said. "I was impressed with his genuine care for this area."

Cora has spent five seasons on the White Sox coaching staff, learning from colorful manager Ozzie Guillen. He started as Chicago's third-base coach before being bench coach the last two seasons and watched how Guillen interacted with his players.

Cora also managed one year in the Venezuelan Winter League. He avoided going into detail about his meeting with Zduriencik but hoped his passion came across.

"Hopefully, I impressed him enough to be considered manager of the Mariners," Cora said. "I think I bring a lot to the table. I showed him what I had to say and, hopefully, he liked it."

Hale spent the last two seasons with the Diamondbacks after three years as their Triple-A manager in Tucson. He was able to gain an overview of the organization with the help of Arizona manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Bryan Price. Both previously held the same roles with the Mariners.

"I think we just need to re-energize the city and make them realize that this team has enough to compete and win," Hale said.

Next up for Zduriencik are interviews Wednesday with Oakland Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu in the morning and Triple-A manager Randy Ready in the afternoon. He said there have been no additions to his original list of seven he intends on interviewing.

"Although I continue to get phone calls," he said.