Alomar plays up leadership in Boston interview
Despite no managerial experience, ex-catcher eager for chance
BOSTON -- The one thing that differentiates Sandy Alomar Jr. from the other candidates who are trying to be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox? He has never managed before -- at any level.
But when you take everything else about Alomar into consideration, is it really that much of a detriment?
The fact that the Red Sox invited him in for an interview -- which took place on Wednesday at Fenway Park -- probably answers that question.
Alomar has been involved in baseball for his entire life. His father played and coached in the Majors. His brother Roberto was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Then there is the fact that Sandy Alomar Jr. played parts of 20 seasons in the Majors under nine managers, taking a little bit from each one of them. And the fact that Alomar was in a position (catcher) that demanded leadership.
Less than five years removed from his last Major League game, Alomar feels he is ready to sink his teeth into managing.
"Well, I have played many years at this level," Alomar said. "I have great managerial people that I played for, and in fact I think I played for nine managers. All nine managers I played for have participated or managed in the postseason, and six out of the nine have reached the World Series and two out of those six have won the World Series. I have learned a tremendous amount of baseball from those kind of people, and my father has been very influential in my career in the coaching department. I feel like I can help an organization."
Whether the Red Sox end up hiring Alomar to be their manager, they agree with his assessment.
"He's going to be a Major League manager," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "Whether that's in 2012 or sometime after that, I'm very confident to say that he'll be a big league manager sometime. That family just knows baseball better than most other families do. So we felt despite the lack of managing experience, it was worth getting to know him better. And it was worth getting to know him better."
Not surprisingly, Cherington's former boss, Theo Epstein, will interview Alomar for the Cubs' opening on Friday.
What led Cherington to speak with Alomar when he's yet to contact anyone else without managerial experience?
"As we were doing research on candidates, his name kept coming up," Cherington said. "I knew of Sandy. I was actually with Sandy, he didn't know who I was, in '98 in Cleveland. But I saw him in the clubhouse, I was in the clubhouse all the time, and I saw the leader he was back then, the respect he had in that clubhouse.
"I've been sort of following him since then. And then the research we did more recently on candidates, his name just kept coming up as a guy that has just a ton of respect in the baseball community -- incredible talent, instincts for the game, awareness."
The Red Sox interviewed Pete Mackanin and Dale Sveum last week, and the club will speak with Torey Lovullo and Gene Lamont later this week. Cherington said that his next manager could very well come from that pool of five, though he hasn't ruled out identifying an additional candidate.
While Alomar has never managed a game before, he did so in simulated fashion for Cherington as part of his job interview.
"The simulation exercise went really well," Cherington said. "Despite not managing in games before, he sees the game very much like a manager does."
Asked why he never managed at the Minor League level, Alomar said that he compensated during his final years as a player, constantly saddling up to his manager or coaches to see the strategy as it developed.
"Basically around 2001 and up, that's when I started thinking about the possibility that I could be a coach soon or a manager," Alomar said.
Alomar also feels his preparation as a catching instructor/bullpen coach for the Mets, and then catching instructor/first-base coach with the Indians, was invaluable.
"When I came to Cleveland, I was given the first-base coach job with the catching coordinator [position] in the big leagues," Alomar said. "I wanted to take the first-base coach to a different level. I asked questions. I wanted to be like Davey Lopes at first base. That's a guy that I looked at as the standard for the first-base coach. I didn't want to just pick up a helmet and a couple of batting gloves. So the last two years, I felt like I made a great transition. I felt like it opens a lot of things in my mind, as far as baserunning and things like that."
His thoughts on the Red Sox?
"Powerhouse," Alomar said. "They're pretty good. Considering what happened last year, I think they had a few injuries in the pitching staff, which hindered them to be successful in September. But I think they're still a very competitive team. They can win the division next year."
Alomar hopes he can be a part of that process.
"The only weakness that I have, to be honest with you right now, is that I haven't managed anywhere in the past," Alomar said. "That's the main concern for everybody. But I've managed myself and I've managed people throughout my career with leadership, and I feel like I could do it."
It seems as if he will. The only question is when, and for whom.