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Mariners notebook: Managerial search update

By Shannon Drayer

It would appear that Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has made progress with the massive list of managerial candidates as what could be considered at least preliminary interviews have taken place this week.

Zduriencik, who is in Arizona to watch the fall league, is known to have met with Athletics bench coach Chip Hale and Padres bench coach Rick Renteria in the past two days. The Mariners are hoping to have a final list of candidates in the next week or so.

Unless something dramatic happens, the hire will not be made or announced until after the World Series. As I have mentioned before, at least one candidate is still coaching with his team in the World Series and obviously an interview would have to wait until the that is completed.

One fewer team is in the hunt for a manager as the Nationals have reportedly hired Matt Williams. Other hirings involving former Mariners managers: Don Wakamatsu, who spent the last year scouting for the Yankees, has been added as the bench coach in Kansas City and Eric Wedge will interview with the Cubs.

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Dan Wilson has a few things in common with Mike Matheny, a former catcher who had no previous managerial experience before he was hired by the Cardinals. (AP)
Another name reported by some to be on the Cubs' list and said to be of interest to the Mariners is Brad Ausmus. I find this interesting in that Ausmus – who currently is a special assistant in the Padres organization – has never coached or managed at any level in baseball. A couple of years ago this would have been unheard of, but today you have another former catcher with no previous managerial or coaching experience in the Cardinals' Mike Matheny managing in the World Series.

Ausmus, a veteran of 18 big-league seasons, was known as being a very bright guy throughout his career. More than once it was suggested that he would make a good manager when his playing career was over. Former catcher, long playing career, smart, able to handle the media well – he sounds like someone here in Seattle.

If the Mariners are to consider Ausmus I would hope they would do the same for Dan Wilson, who comes with the added benefit of having already established relationships with those who would be above him. There would be less of that dance, less of that give and take that happens as a manager tries to establish himself and settle in at the same time. This is something I saw Wedge work hard at. It was a big focus early on and it was the smart but ultimately necessary thing to do. A candidate that already had that relationship would not have to dedicate as much time or focus to it. Upstairs knows Wilson and Wilson knows upstairs. He could hit the ground running, so to speak.

How important are these relationships? Buster Olney wrote an interesting column (subscription required) earlier this week about how the manager position has changed in recent years. He points out that the days of the superstar manager are coming to end. Rather than being a big name and big personality that helps pull fans in, the managers "have become merely a piece of the front office."

Not too long ago, managers like Lou Piniella would manage not only by experience but at times by gut, by feeling. Today, in many managers' offices you see page after page of statistics and charts sent down from from the baseball analytics offices about what to do in what situations. Rather than being led by a manager and his experience, there are organizational philosophies and practices. Teams are built to be run in certain manners. It is the manager's job to adhere to that. This is how the game has evolved. More is known and more must be utilized.

It can become a tricky balance for the manager, who in turn becomes not just the face of the team on the field, but the front office and its vision as well.

A few years ago, a veteran player told me that the most important skill for a manager to have was to be able to communicate. That seemed like a no-brainer. Of course the manager has to be able to communicate in an effective manner with his team.

That wasn't what this player was talking about, however. He said the manager's most important communication was with the media. He pointed out that the manager was speaking for everyone and everyone heard what he said. This could have an impact upstairs and it could have an even bigger impact in the clubhouse. The one person the fans and media hear from more than anyone is the manager, and he better get it right. I had never thought of it that way, but this is something Olney pointed to in his column as well.

While the game hasn't changed much on the field it has behind the scenes, and recent hirings reflect this. Zduriencik's hire could as well.

News and notes

For a third straight year the Mariners will come up empty when the Gold Glove Awards are handed out. Rawlings announced the Gold Glove finalists Friday morning and not a single Mariner is on the list.

If you are heading to spring training this year, things at the Mariners' complex are going to look different:

Mariners

The complex has been undergoing major renovations, which began as soon as the team broke camp last April.

Because of the renovations, the Peoria Javalinas of the Arizona Fall League have been playing their games in Surprise.

Speaking of the fall league, Brandon Maurer pitched four scoreless innings Thursday in his third outing of the fall. Dominic Leone has yet to give up a run and has struck out eight in his 5 1/3 innings pitched. Chris Taylor is continuing to hit, going 9 for 25 and putting up a .467 on-base percentage.

In winter ball, Jesus Montero is hitting .265/.286/.382/.668 with one walk and 10 strikeouts in 34 at-bats. Our blogging friend, Logan Bawcom, has given up one earned run in five outings and picked up Lara's only save.

Last but not least, an opportunity to do some good!

710 ESPN Seattle's Ultimate Sports Auction Benefiting Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Pete Gross House and Family Assistance Fund is underway and there are some great sports items up for bid.Click here to bid on over 80 autographed footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, tickets and more.An autographed Felix Hernandez baseball or perhaps one from Hisashi Iwakuma would make a nice gift.

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