Mariners to interview Cora, six others as managerial search begins

SEATTLE -- After a 100-loss season and a seventh consecutive year out of the playoffs, the Seattle Mariners appear ready to try something new.

New general manager Jack Zduriencik has narrowed his list of managerial candidates to seven -- including former Mariners infielder Joey Cora -- and not one of them has been a major league manager before.

"I guess you could say it was probably a coincidence. I can tell you I had extensive [conversations] with guys who have been managers one, two and three times," Zduriencik said Monday night, following his 2½-hour interview with Boston Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills.

Zduriencik will interview Cora, the bench coach for the Chicago White Sox, and Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale on Tuesday.

Also on the list are Boston third base coach DeMarlo Hale, St. Louis Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, Triple-A manager Randy Ready and Oakland Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu.

"Every manager in the big leagues got his start somewhere. That might be what happens here," Zduriencik said. "I wouldn't etch that in stone. I have my ears open."

Just not to former major league managers Jim Riggleman, Ned Yost and Willie Randolph.

Zduriencik, a first-time GM hired three weeks ago, said he has ruled out Riggleman, the team's manager for the final 3½ months of last season.

He also said he has not spoken in two weeks to Yost, who was fired in Milwaukee in September. Yost knows Zduriencik well from when Zduriencik was a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin.

And Zduriencik has no intention of contacting former New York Mets manager Randolph, either. Zduriencik sat in on Randolph's interview with Melvin for the Brewers' managerial opening a few years ago.

Randolph was hired as Milwaukee's bench coach on Saturday and Riggleman became Washington's bench coach last month, but both are free to leave if they get a managerial offer.

"I don't intend to reach out to anyone else," Zduriencik said. "I could, but I don't intend to."

He called organizational ties like the ones Cora has with Seattle "a plus" but not necessarily an important one.

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said Monday he had withdrawn as a candidate.

"My decision is based on family reasons and being committed to the Red Sox organization," Farrell said in a statement.

Zduriencik hopes to have the first round of interviews completed this weekend, when he said he could add "another person or two" to the mix.

One additional candidate could be longtime acquaintance Bobby Valentine, the former manager of the Mets and Texas Rangers who is now managing in Japan.

Zduriencik said one common thread among the current candidates is all have backgrounds in winning organizations.

Mills just finished his fifth season as manager Terry Francona's bench coach in Boston. He was also bench coach with the Montreal Expos in 2003 and first base coach for Francona in Philadelphia from 1997 to 2000.

The former infielder spent 11 years managing in the minor leagues immediately after his playing days ended.

Mills said the Mariners' opening was a good opportunity.

"I think it's not very far away with this team," he said, adding he thought first-time candidates may supply more energy to instill a new direction than perhaps a managerial retread would.

Zduriencik thinks energy will be a given from whoever ultimately manages the Mariners in 2009.

"We'd like to win right now," he said. "We'll give it our best shot for 2009. How realistic that is, we'll have to see how this unfolds."