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Indians commence search for skipper

Indians commence search for skipper

CLEVELAND -- In the week since the Indians announced that manager Eric Wedge had been relieved of his duties, general manager Mark Shapiro and assistant GM Chris Antonetti have been in touch with their contacts throughout the game to put together a preliminary list of managerial candidates.

"We've got the phone bills to prove it," Shapiro said Wednesday.

The Indians have entered this process with a firm idea of what sort of attributes they'd like their next skipper to possess, but an open mind about who that guy might be.

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Money, Shapiro said, is not an issue. That might come as a surprise, given the Indians' recent and drastic cost-cutting measures, and the fact that they are still on the hook to pay Wedge around $1.3 million next year.

"I can't foresee a scenario where we won't have the resources to get the right guy," Shapiro said.

Major League managerial experience -- or lack thereof -- also doesn't appear to be an issue, provided the candidate fits the Indians' framework for a firm fit.

"Obviously, [the candidate must be] a good communicator, internally and externally," Shapiro said. "Somebody who can effectively demonstrate good awareness and the ability to communicate across a broad spectrum of players, cultures and personalities. And then being an effective communicator to our market, as well."

The Indians also want to find a candidate who has a good idea of the type of coaching staff he'll need to be successful. One knock on Wedge was that he had a staff dominated by ex-catchers. Shapiro said he'd like to find "somebody who has the ability to build a diverse staff -- and by that I mean a different set of backgrounds, complementary backgrounds with different skill sets and talents."

In surveying the Major League landscape for a candidate who fits those traits, Shapiro and Antonetti have compiled an initial list of about 30 possibilities. That list will be whittled down next week, when the Indians' front office conducts player evaluation meetings in Goodyear, Ariz., and Shapiro and Antonetti initiate phone interviews with eight to 10 candidates.

Shapiro's plan, as laid out to reporters, is to use the phone interviews to narrow that list of eight to 10 candidates down to a list of three to five guys who will be invited to Progressive Field for a more formal, in-person interview. And the interview will extend to the local media, as Shapiro plans to make each of those final candidates available to the press.

"It's an opportunity for us to observe," Shapiro said, "which is a positive and a plus."

Shapiro's goal is to select the Indians' next manager by the end of the month, with an official announcement following the conclusion of the World Series. Teams are discouraged from making major news announcements during the Fall Classic.

While the interview process will eventually be made public, it is, for now, shrouded in secrecy. Shapiro said he will neither confirm nor deny any names who have been bandied about as possibilities for the position.

For now, all Shapiro would reveal is that one of the eight to 10 candidates is an internal one. It's believed that Triple-A Columbus manager Torey Lovullo will get an interview, but that's not confirmed. It also remains doubtful that the Indians will fill this vacancy from within.

As far as outside candidates are concerned, ESPN.com reported over the weekend that Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell -- a popular choice among fans and the media -- has pulled himself out of the running for the job. That report, however, has not been confirmed, and it could be that Farrell is merely trying to avoid any further public discussion about his future while the Red Sox are in the playoffs.

Shapiro said the Indians are considering several candidates whose teams are in the postseason. That could obviously affect the timetable he discussed with reporters, but he said it's a flexible outlook.

"We'll either go to them [on an off-day during the playoffs] or work around that and delay it five days," Shapiro said. "There's no business we have to do that says, 'We have to have the guy in here by this time.'"

Shapiro said he pulled out a job description for Major League manager that he and former GM John Hart drew up in the early 2000s, and he's applied the Indians' current situation to it. The Tribe's situation now places a heavy emphasis on bringing in a leader who knows how to develop young, emerging talent and also a manager who is adept at handling a bullpen (given the Tribe's struggles in that area in three out of the past four years) and selecting a pitching coach.

"I would certainly like that manager to have some defined thoughts about managing the bullpen," Shapiro said. "What's most important is he has his job description for that pitching coach and what he thinks describes and outlines an impact pitching coach, and he has candidates in mind to fill that position."

As Shapiro said at the time of Wedge's dismissal, the new guy might share some similarities with the old guy. The Indians aren't looking to make drastic changes in the way they do their business.

"It's a leadership position," Shapiro said. "Our philosophies as an organization are the same. Because it's a leadership position, some of the attributes will be identical [to Wedge], some will be complementary. But every single individual is going to have his own set of strengths and his own set of limitations."

And while Wedge's popularity among fans was at a low point and his dismissal was viewed by many as an olive branch offered to a frustrated fan base, Shapiro said he's not looking to bring in a candidate strictly because of his popularity.

"I'm not looking for short-term popularity," Shapiro said. "I'm looking for a guy to come in here and lead this organization effectively and maximize our chance of winning ballgames. I've said it before. A popular decision in December or January is very often your downfall in July or August."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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