Cubs challenge Sandy Alomar Jr. in interview

Sandy Alomar Jr. became the fourth candidate to interview for the Chicago Cubs' managerial vacancy and the team's GM said Friday the field may be complete.

Decision-making for hypothetical game situations part of process

Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., smiles during a news conference following his interview for the manager position with the Cubs on Friday. (Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)

Sandy Alomar Jr. became the fourth candidate to interview for the Chicago Cubs' managerial vacancy and the team's general manager said Friday the field may be complete.

"Quite probably, yes," new Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday. "I wouldn't guarantee it is.

"But we feel really good about the four guys we brought in. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty, either."

The Cubs had already interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux as possible replacements for the fired Mike Quade.

"All four guys were impressive and well-prepared," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said now there would be internal discussions among the front office members who participated in the interview process, headed by president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who didn't comment Friday. And then there would be follow-up questions for some or all of the candidates.

He said there was no timetable. General managers meet next week in Milwaukee.

"We want to make the right decision, not the quick decision," Hoyer said.

Francona a candidate?

One person who didn't interview but would seem a top candidate is Terry Francona, who was Red Sox manager under then-GM Epstein when Boston won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

Francona has already interviewed for the St. Louis Cardinals' post, but a Chicago Tribune story on Friday reported he was interested in managing the Cubs.

Francona left Boston after the club's September collapse that cost it a playoff spot. There were also reports that some Red Sox players were drinking beer and eating chicken in the clubhouse during games.

Hoyer said Epstein and Francona have talked.

"Certainly there are conversations that have gone on between Theo and Tito [Francona] who've had a great relationship for a long time," Hoyer said, referring specifics on those conversations to Epstein.

Alomar, who spent parts of 20 seasons catching in the majors — most notably as the 1990 American League rookie of the year and a six-time all-star for the Indians — has been the first-base coach in Cleveland for the past two seasons before being promoted to bench coach. He has no managerial experience.

Like Mackanin and Sveum, he also interviewed with the Red Sox. He called his interview with the Cubs interesting and challenging, where he had to make quick decisions on the fly for hypothetical game situations.

"I think I bring a lot of things to the table that maybe some other guys don't bring," Alomar said.

Strong baseball family

He comes from a strong baseball family. As a catcher he was able to see the game and defence in front of him and make split-second decisions. He has the respect of many who watched him play and he's been thinking about managing for the last 10 years, even before his career ended. He played for numerous winning managers and was with the Indians when they made two trips to the World Series.

He said he also understands to a degree the emotional side of players like temperamental Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano and would work to try and understand his thought process, should he get the job and Chicago brings Zambrano back.

But Alomar didn't sound completely sold on the new baseball math used to rate players and determine their potential for success. Epstein and Hoyer are big proponents of statistical analysis -- coupled with scouting.

"That helps but doesn't tell the whole story of the game," Alomar said. "There is a lot of gut feeling you got to make.

 "If you have a stat and see a flashing number and you see that this guy is doing very good against this other guy, you can use that in a game during a key situation. Yes. But we cannot just depend on stats alone. You got to depend on many other things. ... I don't like to become a fantasy manager. The goal for a good manager is to have players who are able to manage themselves on the field."

The 45-year-old Alomar also played for the Padres, White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets. He had a lifetime average of .273 with 112 homers and 588 RBIs.

His father, Sandy Alomar Sr., spent 15 seasons in the majors as a second baseman, and his brother, Roberto, is in the Hall of Fame.

Sandy Alomar Sr. was once a coach with the Cubs, among other teams.

Alomar Jr. still has a home in Chicago and his wife is from the city.