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Cubs’ GM search could extend well into October

Mike Quade said he plans operate during offseasas if it’s business as usual. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

Mike Quade said he plans to operate during the offseason as if it’s business as usual. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: December 2, 2011 2:12PM

SAN DIEGO — Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts offered no clearer a time line Wednesday for having a new general manager in place than he did nearly seven weeks ago.

But manager Mike Quade said in conversations he had with Ricketts last month and again recently that he was given the “courtesy’’ of being told the process “might take awhile.’’

With an already long process looking like it might extend well into October, that suggests Ricketts is focused on candidates involved in the playoff field — which, as he spoke, still included the possibility of Boston GM Theo Epstein and assistant Ben Cherington, and Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman. reported Wednesday that the Cubs, as expected, have “reached out’’ to Friedman.

Among those it would seem to exclude, at least as a first choice, is Oakland GM Billy Beane, whose team owner said last month that he’d be allowed to pursue any job opportunity he wants.

Another would-be candidate off the list is a name that arose even before Hendry was fired. Former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, now an assistant with the Padres, was eliminated despite lobbying by a close associate of Byrnes’ who also knows Ricketts.

A high-ranking Padres official confirmed that the Cubs have not asked permission to talk with anyone in the team’s front office, including GM and Epstein disciple Jed Hoyer.

Ricketts, who joined the team Wednesday for his annual end-of-season team address, declined to talk about specifics of the process, as he said would be the case the day he announced Jim Hendry’s firing last month.

“Like I’ve always said, we’ll do it as efficiently and quickly as possible, but it’s a big decision,’’ he said. “There’s no point in rushing it. We’ve got to have the right guy at the right time, and whatever it takes it takes.’’

Meanwhile, with personnel decisions on several key players looming, Ricketts said interim GM Randy Bush is monitoring deadlines and circumstances involving those players.

“To the extent that he’s got a decision to make, I’m sure I’ll talk to him,’’ Ricketts said, adding he might be willing to take steps to try to keep a desired player before a new GM is hired.

“It’s possible. Hopefully, the timing works out so that kind of flows with the timing of the player. We’ll see. I’m not going to rule anything out. We’ll get the process done as quickly as possible, but there’s no hard sort of timetable. If we have to make any decisions before a GM comes in, we’ll address it as they come up.’’

The uncertainty cuts deeper for several coaches without 2012 contracts than it does the players, or even for Quade, who got a two-year deal when he got the full-time gig after a successful interim run last year.

“It’s a big organizational decision, and right now it’s bigger than any of us, whether we like it or not,’’ said Quade, who sought an update from Ricketts just before this final weeklong road trip to have something to tell his staff.

“You just appreciate [getting] the truth,’’ Quade said. “And I was able to tell my staff. This is not what we wanted or expected, but it is what it is, and all of us understand this.’’

Quade said he plans to operate during the offseason as if it’s business as usual and has encouraged the coaches to do the same.

“There’s really nothing else you can do,’’ he said. “And if somebody happens to come calling [to interview a coach for a job opening], you see if there’s any interest and see what Tom and Randy and the people that are here think.

“That’s the only thing I worry about, guys waiting and not getting a job [when other staffs fill up] and things don’t work out. So I’ll do everything I can do just to keep abreast as best I can.’’

Ricketts said he has “talked to a lot of people’’ doing background work on potential candidates.

“We’ll get it done as fast as we can,’’ he said. “That’s all I can say.’’

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