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November 13, 2008 at 6:43 PM

Zduriencik dismisses credibility concerns

The Mariners have wrapped up interviews with all seven managerial candidates, but the process appears far from over. GM Jack Zduriencik sounded almost certain that he’s going to hold a second round of interviews next week with the top two or three candidates.
And then, there’s the possibility he’ll add one or two candidates — former managers — to his current list. Those would be interviewed over the weekend, before the final round.
Zduriencik insists he isn’t concerned about his current list of candidates — all vying for their first managerial jobs in the majors — having credibility problems with players. So no, he’s not panicking and considering the addition of some former managers because he’s worried the inmates would take over the assylum.
The Seattle clubhouse, as we’ve shown you, had its issues this season. No, it wasn’t the Bronx Zoo reincarnated. But let’s just say former managers John McLaren and Jim Riggleman had their hands full in navigating various minefields. I’m not sure either manager had the complete respect of their players. The players claimed to “love” McLaren. But respect is another story. Did they always run through walls for him? Let’s just say I have no doubt McLaren would have run through walls for his players. He stood out there, night after night, getting stones thrown at him in public while his players often hid in private lounges after embarassing themselves on the field.
I got the feeling some of his generosity towards them wasn’t always repaid on the field or off it. He had their back. But they didn’t always have his.
Speaking of McLaren and his former staff, third base coach Sam Perlozzo just signed on with the Phillies. They have vacancies at bench coach and third base coach but he’s yet to be assigned. That leaves only pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre and bullpen coach Norm Charlton remaining from the staff that began the 2008 season.
Zduriencik broke down what he’s looking for in a manager.
“All of us…we all need discipline,” Zduriencik said. “But I don’t need an overbearing person that’s going to control everything that a player does.”
Zduriencik feels all managers ultimately have to gain the respect of players through their actions during the season. And even so-called “player’s managers” have to be able to crack down when needed.
“Tough love is a good thing,” he said. “Respect from a player — a player’s manager could have and should have that as a requirement.”
Zduriencik said more experienced managers can have their own credibility problems with a new team, especially if something happened in their previous job. The first thing players will do, he said, he phone each other up and share all the gossip and stories there are to be had.
“Just because they’ve managed doesn’t give them credibility,” he said. “Credibility is going to be established by this guy gaining the respect.”
Interview candidate Jose Oquendo, the last of the seven, went this afternoon. I asked him whether managers today have to handle players differently than when he was a major leaguer from 1983 to 1995.
“I would say yes,” Oquendo said. “Some of them, you have to be careful how you say the things you’re going to tell them. You have to be telling them the truth. But you have to be careful. Some of the guys are more sensitive today than the guys before.”
Oquendo, one of two Latin American candidates (yes, Joey Cora is Latin American, my bad), also said he doesn’t think his fluency in Spanish is a huge asset at the major league level. In the minors, it’s different, he said. But in the majors, most players can already speak enough English to get by.
So, there you have it. We’ll know more in a day or so. But expect Zduriencik to do some more interviews before this thing gets done. I’m picking a week from today as my random date for naming a manager. Wishful thinking on my part, as I’ll be flying to Montreal on the Friday for the CFL’s Grey Cup football championship. Let’s see what happens.



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