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11/17/11 12:03 AM EST

Sveum front-runner for Cubs' job; Maddux out

Epstein, Hoyer meet again with managerial candidate

MILWAUKEE -- When Mike Maddux interviewed for the Cubs' managerial opening last week, he stressed how his family would play a large role in his decision.

Apparently, Maddux is no longer a viable option, and Dale Sveum may be the front-runner. Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer have conducted followup interviews with each of the candidates, and Maddux appears to have taken himself out of contention.

Sveum, the Brewers' hitting coach, was a candidate for Boston's managerial vacancy, but Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said on Wednesday night that they will expand their search, which led to reports that Sveum was offered the Cubs job. The Cubs did not confirm those reports.

Hoyer and Epstein met with Sveum in Milwaukee on Tuesday, continuing a dialogue that began last week with an interview at Wrigley Field.

Asked on Wednesday whether he needed to sell the Cubs to Sveum, Hoyer said, "I think the Cubs sell themselves."

Sveum, who turns 48 on Nov. 23, has just 16 games of Major League managerial experience, which came in September 2008 after Ned Yost was dismissed as the Brewers' manager. Sveum took over with 12 games remaining, and the Brewers rallied to clinch the National League Wild Card spot but lost in four games to the eventual World Series champion Phillies in the NL Division Series.

"It definitely whet the appetite a little bit," Sveum said on Nov. 7 when he met with the media at Wrigley Field after his first interview. "I think we all want to do things, but until you get thrown in the fire, you don't know if it's the right thing for you, even if it's something you want to do.

"Once I got to manage that year, those 12 games and the four games in the playoffs, it was somewhere where I felt right at home and very comfortable doing," he said.

The Brewers passed on Sveum when they named their next two managers.

"I moved on," he said. "I knew it would happen someday that I would get an opportunity. I never lost hope."

Said Brewers GM Doug Melvin: "That was more a philosophical thing. We wanted to go with a new name and a new face from outside."

There was no official comment from the Cubs regarding Maddux, who does not want to uproot his family. He is building a home in the Dallas area and has two daughters attending college there. The family was finally back together in June for the first time in three years, Maddux said during his interview at Wrigley Field on Nov. 9.

"My family is very important," Maddux said, noting that when he finished playing, his two daughters were 8 and 10 years old.

The family was separated during the six years he spent in Milwaukee as the Brewers' pitching coach, and split again when he went to Texas to be the Rangers' pitching coach.

"Right now, as of June, my family resides together," Maddux said. "That has not happened in three years. That's pretty special. There does come a time when you have to stop and smell the roses. It was a pretty big gut check for me this year, being with my family. The situation we're in in Texas was nice. There are a lot of tough decisions that would have to be made."

Rangers president Nolan Ryan endorsed Maddux for the Cubs job but also noted that Maddux's family is important.

"[Family matters] are all, obviously, things that come into play," Ryan said. "I just don't know where all that shakes out."

There were reports on Wednesday night that Sveum has emerged as a favorite, and he is also very much alive for the Red Sox job as well.

Hoyer said that he and Epstein will be keeping any additional talks confidential.

"We've reached back out to all the candidates in some form or another," Hoyer said. "I think we're entering the stage of the process where we'll handle it closer to the vest."

Epstein and Hoyer met on Tuesday night in Milwaukee with Sveum, who was in town to talk to the Red Sox. Hoyer didn't want to describe his meeting with Sveum as a "second interview."

Earlier on Wednesday, Sveum told Comcast Sports New England that everything had stalled.

"Nothing has been discussed beyond the interview process," Sveum said. "It's kind of a stalemate now. The process is finished; it's just the decision-making process now. We'll wait and see."

With Terry Francona withdrawing from consideration and Maddux most likely out, the Cubs' list is now composed of Sveum, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale.

Last week, Epstein said that the Cubs were in the sixth inning. Now they may be closing in.

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.