A’s in no hurry to hire new manager

A’s in no hurry to hire new manager

Josh Suchon

OAKLAND — The search for the Oakland Athletics new manager is underway, and logic dictates it will start where last year’s search ended.

Before Ken Macha was re-hired last October, A’s coaches Ron Washington and Bob Geren were the first two that interviewed for the job. They figure to top the A’s list this year.

The A’s will have competition for Washington, who became the first of five to interview with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, and thought it went “very well.”

The risk of losing the valuable Washington to a division rival won’t necessarily force the A’s to move more quickly.

“I’m not sure we’re gonna be able to do this thing justice by rushing,” general manager Billy Beane said Monday.

The other three candidates who never interviewed with the A’s a year ago: ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser, the former Rangers pitching coach and Dodgers star pitcher; Yankees coach Larry Bowa, a former fiery manager in San Diego and Philadelphia; and Colorado bench coach Jamie Quirk, a former A’s backup catcher.

As of Tuesday, the A’s hadn’t contacted Colorado for permission to speak with Quirk.

ESPN’s Peter Gammons reported that Beane has always admired the game management of former Texas manager Buck Showalter, who wore out his welcome in Texas and Arizona for too much micro-managing.

When A’s catcher JasonKendall was asked to plug a manager candidate, he volunteered his father, Kansas City Royals assistant Fred Kendall.

“I’m not just saying that because he’s my dad,” Jason said. “I know my dad would be a good manager. I’m not saying he will be the next A’s manager. But he played 12 years, he’s coached eight years; he’s somebody that is well respected and knows the game.

“But that’s Billy’s job (to hire somebody), not mine. My job is to catch. I’ll play hard no matter who the manager is. I just love to play. I love the game, and I got that enjoyment from my father.”

Washington spent four hours interviewing Tuesday with the Rangers.

“I know I impressed them,” Washington said. “But they have four other guys to talk to. Sometimes you wonder if being the first guy is a good thing or a bad thing.”

The other four are Rangers bench coach and Hayward High grad Don Wakamatsu, Mets third base coach Manny Acta (who is also on the Giants list), Trey Hillman, a manager in the Japanese league, and former Rangers catcher John Russell.

Washington said he was “very impressed” with the Rangers people, complimenting them for being “very nice, very prepared,” and “it was a great conversation about baseball.”

“They have a tough decision to make,” Washington said. “The other four are good people also, and they haven’t even heard from them yet.”

Washington said he spoke with Beane on Monday, was told the A’s will not be in a hurry to select somebody, but he will “be part of the process.”

Many A’s players, especially infielders Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez, have strongly lobbied for Washington to get a managing job somewhere for years. Many in the clubhouse shared a hope Washington would be hired a year ago.

The most important characteristic for the A’s new manager, according to Kendall, is somebody who will protect the players.

“If there’s a bang-bang play at first, right or wrong, you want somebody that you know has your back,” Kendall said. “If somebody is complaining about a strike or if the umpire is screwing you, a player can only say so much before he’s gone. You need your manager to protect you.”

Kendall admitted it’s almost impossible for any manager to have all 25 guys like him, but the key is gaining respect.

“A lot of it is a guy who has been there and done that,” Kendall said. “The game of baseball is hard. That’s what a lot of people forget, especially those guys up in the TV booth. You want a manager who will get his guys to play hard until the last out is made.”

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