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11/11/11 10:49 PM EST

Hoyer says Cubs' managerial pool likely set

Compensation on Epstein to be discussed at GM Meetings

CHICAGO -- The Cubs completed the first round of interviews on Friday, meeting with Sandy Alomar Jr., and general manager Jed Hoyer said they may only consider those four candidates.

Alomar, the Indians bench coach, followed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux in sessions with the Cubs. Is that it?

"Probably, yes," Hoyer said Friday about whether this was the Cubs' final four. "We may make some phone calls. I wouldn't guarantee that it is, but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in. We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The next step is for Hoyer and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and their team to meet and discuss the quartet.

"We want to make the right decision, not the quick decision," Hoyer said. "We'll be in Milwaukee next week [at the general manager meetings]. We'll have a lot of meetings, a lot of conversations with other GMs and agents, but Theo and I will spend a lot of time on this process as well."

Terry Francona also is a possible candidate, although Epstein said last week that the former Red Sox manager wouldn't need to go through the interview process. Hoyer said Francona and Epstein have talked, but did not go into detail about those conversations.

Mackanin, Sveum, Maddux and Alomar were well prepared for the Cubs' interviews, Hoyer said, but he also acknowledged all but Maddux had a "dress rehearsal" because they talked to the Red Sox first.

"It was clear they'd done their homework and cared about the process," Hoyer said.

As for whether there's a leader in the group, Hoyer wouldn't tip his hand.

"Totally open for debate," he said. "We're going to get back and have those discussions, and probably have some followup conversations. We've spent a lot of time with these candidates, but now we can think about followup conversations, and was there a hole in the process we want to cover up, and we can do that. We need to have those conversations before we can move forward."

• Hoyer said compensation between the Cubs and the Red Sox regarding Epstein has not been determined and will be discussed at the GM meetings. Major League Baseball officials will be present and may be needed to arbitrate. Epstein left Boston with one year remaining on his contract.

• The Cubs front office met Thursday to discuss the 40-man roster and who to protect. Besides picking a manager, the Cubs also have some holes to fill on the roster.

"We've had a number of conversations about free agents and about trade targets," Hoyer said. "I think for both Theo and for me, it's exciting to go up to Milwaukee and start having face-to-face conversations with different teams about our guys.

"I've been trying to make as many GM phone calls as I can so I can have some pre-GM meeting discussions," he said. "It'll be interesting to see what idea the other teams have, what players they have interest in, because we haven't had this as members of the Cubs yet."

He said it's no secret the Cubs want to get depth as far as starting pitching is concerned, and also find ways to improve the team's defense and get more athletic on the bases.

"Those are things we'll try to solve," he said. "As for the actual plan, we'll keep that to ourselves."

• As for Carlos Zambrano, Hoyer said they have talked to his agent, Barry Praver, and expected to have additional conversations. Zambrano was to make his second start in Venezuela on Saturday for Caribes.

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.