CLEVELAND — Sandy Alomar Jr. took the first swing Thursday, and Terry Francona will get his hacks today. There is still no word on whether anyone else will get an at-bat.
In the midst of his interview with Alomar, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti met with reporters at Progressive Field and wouldn’t reveal whether there are other candidates that will join the race to become the next Indians manager.
“We’ve conducted our due diligence to this point,” Antonetti said. “We have a plan in place. It will begin with Sandy (Thursday) and Terry (today), and then we’ll move forward from there.”
Antonetti said the team would like to name its manager as quickly as possible and could work with Major League Baseball to make an announcement during the postseason. Unless there is a candidate among the playoff teams, there is no rule preventing them from naming Manny Acta’s replacement before the completion of the World Series.
Alomar, one of the most popular players in franchise history and an assistant coach under Acta the past three years, got the first crack at the job and his first opportunity to manage in the big leagues, serving the role on an interim basis over the final six games of the regular season.
“As expected, Sandy did a great job,” Antonetti said. “There was a lot to work through, especially for someone who does not have that extensive managing experience. He did an exceptional job of preparing for it.
“It’s hard to make too much out of any six days. I think we felt all along from the time Sandy was a player he had leadership abilities. He demonstrated that as a coach and that certainly was magnified in his six days as the manager.”
If it comes down to Alomar and Francona, Alomar is clearly the fans’ choice and has developed a solid relationship with Cleveland players over the past three seasons.
“I think I got a pretty good feel as we conducted exit interviews (with players) over the last three days,” Antonetti said. “I can tell you Sandy is held in very high regard among our players.
“I wouldn’t give anyone a leg up in the process. I would say we feel very good about the two initial candidates that we’ve identified.”
Francona, who managed in Philadelphia and Boston, winning two World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and ‘07, has the decided edge in experience. But Chicago’s Robin Ventura and St. Louis’ Mike Matheny have proven that rookie managers can succeed, and Antonetti thinks that could hold true with Alomar
“I have no reason to think otherwise,” Antonetti said. “I fully expect that he is ready to do the job and be successful at it.”
If he does get the job, it will be a much different role for Alomar, but he plans on staying the same.
“I feel like you don’t have to change (from coach to manager),” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the culture of a manager or a tradition. If I have to tell you something, I’ll tell you to your face. I don’t have to lie to you. That’s the bottom line.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.