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Cubs, Red Sox in bidder conflict over Sveum?

Dale Sveum

Dale Sveum

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Updated: December 17, 2011 8:37AM

MILWAUKEE — The bruises still fresh from a compensation scuffle that has yet to be resolved, the Cubs and Boston Red Sox could be about to trade blows over their respective managerial searches.

The Cubs appear to have narrowed their finalist field to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. The potential flashpoint surrounds Sveum’s widely perceived front-runner status in Boston.

The Cubs scheduled a second interview with Sveum for Tuesday night during the annual general managers meetings in Milwaukee, according to a source close to Sveum, one day ahead of an already scheduled second interview with the Red Sox.

‘‘We’re not focusing on the Red Sox and what they’re doing,’’ said Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, who would only acknowledge the Cubs planned to meet again with Sveum sometime this week. ‘‘We just want to make the right decision for the Cubs.’’

The Cubs’ top choice is believed to be Maddux, but there are concerns among team officials that family issues expressed by Maddux during last week’s interview could ultimately cause him to decline an offer.

The Cubs have reached out to Maddux since then without gaining much more clarity.

That could put Sveum in the middle of a power play between Red Sox expatriates Theo Epstein and Hoyer, and Epstein’s successor Ben Cherington — and possibly put Epstein in position to land a parting shot to the chin of Red Sox president/CEO and sometimes-rival Larry Lucchino.

‘‘We’re talking to the same candidates, so I guess you could never rule that out,’’ Cherington said of a possible showdown. ‘‘But I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

‘‘I think they’re doing what they need to do, and we’re doing what we need to do. But the decision’s too important to react to what somebody else is doing. I believe that we’ve got to take our time and get the right person, and even then there’s no silver bullet.’’

The potential for the teams reaching the conclusions of their searches with a tug-of-war over the same candidate seemed remote a week ago, even with almost identical short lists, because the Cubs seemed to lean toward Maddux from early on.

But Maddux made it clear from the start that finally having his wife and two college-age daughters all in the same place for the first time since he left the Milwaukee coaching staff for Texas was huge to him.

‘‘It was a pretty big gut check for me this year, being with my family,’’ he said last week after choosing to keep his scheduled Cubs interview after withdrawing his name from consideration in Boston. ‘‘We have a lot of things to think about, a lot of things to weigh.’’

Maddux did not return phone, text or e-mail requests for comment Tuesday.

‘‘That was obviously something that we talked about in the interview that we followed up on,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘It’s still something that he’s weighing. Those considerations haven’t gone away.

‘‘I’m not going to comment on where he is on that, but it’s a big factor. I think it’s a factor for everyone. I’d say in this case, it probably weighs a little bit more heavily.’’

That’s where a possible quicker timeline on Sveum comes into play for the Cubs. Sveum started the day Tuesday believing the Red Sox were ready to move quicker than the Cubs on making a choice, the source close to Sveum said.

If the Cubs are forced to go to a Plan C, it appears likely that would be Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr.

Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale (by phone) also interviewed. Despite some reports, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is not considered a serious candidate.

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