SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Toronto Blue Jays are finalizing a list of candidates to interview in-person for their managerial opening after holding phone conversations with a host of potential suitors in recent days.
The process could begin early next week with the bulk of face-to-face meetings potentially completed by week’s end, although they will need to be mindful of the concurrent manager searches being conducted by the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds.
During his season-ending discussion with media, GM Ross Atkins said the interest of other clubs in certain candidates could possibly force the Blue Jays to speed up their process.
How many people the Blue Jays plan to bring in wasn’t immediately known, although Atkins suggested after the season five-plus candidates would be interviewed in person.
To this point the Blue Jays have cast a wide net in trying to find a replacement for John Gibbons, who was dismissed at season’s end.
External candidates to have either received internal consideration or been interviewed by phone to this point are believed to include:
— Joe Espada, the Houston Astros bench coach.
— David Bell, the San Francisco Giants’ farm director.
— Chris Woodward, the Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach who played shortstop for the Blue Jays.
— Sandy Alomar Jr., the Cleveland Indians first base coach who interviewed with the Blue Jays when John Farrell was hired after the 2010 season.
— Rob Thompson, the Sarnia, Ont., native who is bench coach with the Philadelphia Phillies.
— Rocco Baldelli, the Tampa Bay Rays’ major-league field co-ordinator.
— Stubby Clapp, the Canadian baseball stalwart who’s managed the St. Louis Cardinals’ triple-A affiliate Memphis to consecutive Pacific Coast League titles.
— John McDonald, the popular former Blue Jays infielder who is Cleveland’s minor-league defensive co-ordinator; Mike Matheny, the former Cardinals manager.
— Joe Girardi, the former New York Yankees manager.
— Eduardo Perez, the current ESPN broadcaster who served as hitting coach with the Miami Marlins and bench coach with Houston.
Internal candidates to have at least received some consideration are DeMarlo Hale, Gibbons’ Blue Jays’ bench coach; John Schneider, who led double-A New Hampshire to an Eastern League title; and triple-A Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham.
Back on Oct. 2, Atkins said his vision for the next Blue Jays manager would be someone who is “tough, smart and passionate.”
“Those are the overarching themes as I think about what it means to lead an environment in here to sustain championship-level expectations,” he continued. “Understanding what it takes for communication to keep not just the 25-man roster, but also the 40-man roster, the 200 minor-league players, the 100-plus scouts, the 100-plus coaches and medical staff people pulling in one direction and feeling connected. That person has to be an organizational leader and spokesperson, not just a leader of the 25-man clubhouse.”