Ausmus tosses hat into ring for Cubs manager
Former catcher was leading man for Team Israel in World Baseball Classic qualifying
CHICAGO -- President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he wanted the next Cubs manager to have some experience at the job, but apparently Brad Ausmus may not need that requirement.
The Cubs interviewed Ausmus at Wrigley Field on Friday, the sixth candidate to talk to Epstein about the manager's job.
Ausmus, 44, who interviewed Monday with the Tigers, played 18 seasons and is currently a special assistant with the Padres. His only managerial experience was with Team Israel in a qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic.
On Tuesday, former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge, 45, met with Epstein and the front office to discuss the vacant manager's job. Ausmus and Wedge join Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Dave Martinez and Manny Acta as candidates.
The Cubs are believed to be interested in Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, 48, as well. Epstein hired Lovullo to manage Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket team in 2010. Detroit was also believed to be eager to talk to Lovullo. Those interviews were delayed because Lovullo didn't want to distract from the World Series, which ended Wednesday.
The only deadline Epstein has set is to have someone in place by Nov. 11, when the General Managers Meetings are held. Dale Sveum was dismissed on Sept. 30 after two seasons as manager.
Ausmus was a three-time Gold Glove Award winner and was named to the All-Star team in 1999. He was drafted in the 47th round by the Yankees in 1987, but wanted to attend Dartmouth College. The Yankees allowed Ausmus to do so while playing in the Minor Leagues. He finished his career in 2010, having played for the Padres, Tigers, Astros and Dodgers, and he compiled a career .251 batting average, 80 home runs and 607 RBIs in 18 seasons.
Houston manager Phil Garner once joked that he had to keep playing Ausmus "because if he starts managing, he'll be better than me." Ausmus' response: "Yeah, but if he keeps playing me more, he may end up losing his job anyway."
Joe Torre also predicted Ausmus would someday manage, and the veteran skipper had the catcher take control of the Dodgers for one game at the end of the 2010 season.
"I'm not going to say that I don't [have that ambition], but I can't say 100 percent that I do," Ausmus said after that Dodgers game, a 7-5 loss to the D-backs. "I might go home and decide that is where I want to be all the time. I wasn't even married until after I got to the big leagues, and I haven't been home with my family for more than three or four months at a time. They may decide they don't like me."
Ausmus is also quick with the quip. In 2010, The Sporting News called him the ninth-smartest athlete in sports.
"I feel like when they say I'm one of the smarter ballplayers, it's just their way of saying I don't hit very much," Ausmus responded.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer hired Ausmus as a special assistant with the Padres in November 2010 when Hoyer was the GM in San Diego.
Ausmus is the third person with a Padres connection to be interviewed for the Cubs' managerial job. Renteria, 51, who has interviewed with the Mariners and Tigers, is San Deigo's bench coach. Hinch, 39, is currently involved with player development in the Padres' front office.
Wedge was the American League Manager of the Year in 2007 when the Indians won 96 games and finished first in the AL Central. He compiled a 561-573 record in Cleveland but was dismissed after a 97-loss season in '09. Wedge had been Seattle's manager since 2011, posting a 213-273 record, but he left the team before the regular season ended. He also missed 27 games this season after suffering a minor stroke.
Martinez, 49, the only candidate who played for the Cubs, has been the Rays' bench coach the last six seasons. Acta, 44, managed the Indians and Nationals.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.