CLEVELAND: General Manager Chris Antonetti failed to offer clues Thursday as to who he’s likely to choose as the Indians’ new manager.
Interim skipper Sandy Alomar was continuing the lengthy interview process while the media quizzed Antonetti at Progressive Field. Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona will take his turn at answering questions from Antonetti and other Tribe front office staffers today.
If other candidates are to follow, Antonetti was not revealing their identities.
“We’re still working through that process,” he said, when asked if anyone else might be asked to come in for an interview.
Alomar received a six-game trial following the firing of Manny Acta, and apparently he did nothing to hurt his chances.
“As expected, Sandy did a good job,” Antonetti said. “Keep in mind that he was doing a lot of things for the first time. He came in prepared every day, he interacted well with his coaches and he communicated well with the players.”
Antonetti didn’t directly solicit the opinion of the players about the candidates, but in exit interviews, they offered positive input about Alomar’s six days on the job, he said.
“From the time Sandy was a player, we identified that he had leadership qualities,” Antonetti said. “And he has shown them as a coach.”
Francona was one of the highest-paid managers in the game, pulling down a salary of $4 million per season from the Red Sox.
“We don’t expect economics to be a factor,” Antonetti said. “We’re going with the idea of getting the best man for the job.”
Like Alomar, Antonetti has a relationship with Francona that goes back more than a decade.
“I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Terry,” Antonetti said. “I worked with him for over a year [in 2001] and we’ve stayed in touch over the last decade. So it was great to know that he is interested in the job.”
Antonetti was asked if he had prioritized the team’s personnel needs for the winter, and he said he is still working on it, inasmuch as he has no firm budget to work with yet.
The Tribe’s August collapse has been studied, but Antonetti said it’s still difficult to pinpoint the primary cause.
“I don’t think there is one sole reason,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, and I don’t think it was a single reason. We do think we have better talent than our record indicated.”
Antonetti doesn’t mind that Chris Perez has opinions, but he would have preferred that he hadn’t shared them with the media. During the course of the season, Perez criticized the fans, the owner, the GM and got in a videotaped shouting match with a fan in Oakland.
“I know it comes from a good place with Chris,” Antonetti said. “He’s very competitive. Sometimes I wish he would have used different words. I appreciate his candor when it’s behind closed doors.”
Antonetti said he did not think Perez caused a problem in the clubhouse.
“I haven’t seen any indication of that,” he said.
Asked about the nature of his exit interview with Perez, Antonetti said: “Long. It was at least an hour.”
As expected, Antonetti gave no indication he wanted to trade Perez.
“We want guys who want to win as badly as Chris,” he said.
Antonetti also refused to say with certainty that he was ready to cut the cord with Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore. Asked if either or both could be back, the GM said, “It’s possible, but there would be much less of an investment from what we made in the past.”
Nor did Antonetti offer a hint as to whether options on Ubaldo Jimenez and Roberto Hernandez would be exercised (three days after the end of the World Series).
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.