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Cubs’ manager candidates look familiar to Theo Epstein

The Cubs are calling back Dale Sveum for second interview according source close Sveum. | Getty Images

The Cubs are calling back Dale Sveum for a second interview, according to a source close to Sveum. | Getty Images

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Updated: December 6, 2011 8:22AM



You apparently can take Theo
Epstein out of Boston, but you can’t take the Red Sox’ list of managerial candidates out of his hand.

Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer are moving fast in their efforts to replace former manager Mike Quade, operating from a short list that reads a lot like the slate of candidates the Red Sox already have begun interviewing.

Epstein and Hoyer confirmed Thursday their roughly half-dozen names of interest include Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux. Mackanin, a Chicago native, is scheduled to interview Friday.

‘‘You’re probably going to see some similarities in the Red Sox’ list and our list, and that’s just a function of the fact I was involved in both processes,’’ said Epstein, who was hired away by the Cubs after he and now-Red Sox GM Ben Cherington had brainstormed a list of candidates to replace Terry Francona.

Maddux, who helped turn the Rangers’ staff into a huge factor in the team’s run to back-to-back American League pennants the last two seasons, seems to be a front-runner, at least in part because of the new brain trust’s
focus on the value of pitching.

Maddux, who declined to comment about the Cubs’ job when contacted this week, has been battling the flu and hopes to be well enough to interview next week.

Hiring Maddux — who built his
exceptional coaching reputation in six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers before joining the Rangers — would raise the intriguing possibility of his brother, Greg, rejoining the organization, possibly in a coaching role.

Greg Maddux was a special adviser to GM Jim Hendry last season and
repeatedly has said he doesn’t want to return to baseball in a full-time, travel-
ing capacity for family reasons. But a source close to him said the idea of working with his brother might sway his thoughts about that.

Epstein reached out to Greg Maddux
last week to invite him to return to the organization, and the two agreed to
revisit the possibility.

‘‘I’m sure it’ll work out in some form or another down the road,’’ Epstein said.

Sources say Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, who was their interim manager at the end of their 2008 playoff season, also has been told he’s a candidate for the Cubs’ job. He interviewed with the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Other candidates on both teams’ lists, according to sources, include Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale (although it’s unclear whether Hale will get a formal interview with the Red Sox).

The Cubs only would confirm Mackanin and Maddux as candidates, but
Epstein said other names will be made public as the team receives permission to interview them.

Hoyer said the Cubs’ list of ‘‘five or six’’ candidates might grow slightly as he and Epstein continue ‘‘talking through names.’’

They said the Cubs don’t plan to pursue any sitting managers, which rules out a run at the Rays’ Joe Maddon, a Red Sox finalist eight years ago when Epstein hired Francona.

Epstein said he’s not ruling out Francona, who’s scheduled to interview for the St. Louis Cardinals’ vacancy, as a candidate for the Cubs’ job, given their close relationship and ongoing conversations about it. But he and Hoyer are proceeding with other candidates as Francona and Esptein ‘‘figure out whether it’s a fit’’ for either side, and it probably would take a perfect storm for Francona to wind up with the job.

‘‘Clearly, he would be at the top of anybody’s list as far as available managers,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘I think that’s true of any organization that were to look at it and say, ‘Who’s somebody with experience? Who’s a proven winner? Who can be a real asset?’ He’s got to be at or real close to the top of the list.’’

One factor working against Francona joining the Cubs is Epstein’s sensitivity to the idea of leaning too hard on familiar faces and methods from Boston as he restarts in Chicago, especially after he brought in former Red Sox front-office colleagues Hoyer and Jason McLeod.

‘‘This doesn’t need to be the Boston Show recreated in Chicago,’’ Epstein said.

That said, he also has no intention of waiting in line behind the Red Sox if both teams start narrowing toward the same candidate.

‘‘I don’t think either organization’s going to defer to the other,’’ he said. ‘‘They’re different markets. The organizations are in a different place right now, with different personnel, different front offices. I’m not sure it’s going to end up being the [same] person. But [if it is], I don’t think it’ll be contentious. But I think both organizations have to do the right thing for themselves.’’



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