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Saturday, October 16, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By Bob Finnigan
Both the Mariners and Phillies interviewed Grady Little this week for their managerial openings, but Seattle appears to be ahead of Philadelphia in the hiring process.
Little reportedly met with Phillies club officials Wednesday, the day after he met with the Mariners, but the National League team does not expect to name a successor to fired manager Larry Bowa until early next month.
The Phillies will take a week off from their search for organizational meetings and resume interviews the last week in October.
Seattle, which conducted its meetings last week in Arizona and laid groundwork to quickly fill the opening left by Bob Melvin's firing, hope to have a manager in place by the end of next week.
With considerable work ahead of them to rebuild a team that lost 99 games this season after being a contender in the American League West, the Mariners hope to have a new manager in place to help in talks with other clubs when the World Series starts next Saturday.
While baseball rules prohibit major personnel announcements during the postseason, teams can be allowed to make moves between the league championship series and World Series.
Little, 54, who most recently was an assistant to Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry after taking the Boston Red Sox to the playoffs with 95 wins in 2003, reportedly met with Mariners officials Tuesday in Los Angeles, a dinner date that by all accounts left good impressions all around.
Seattle club officials also interviewed Joe Maddon, Anaheim's bench coach, but a source said they prefer someone with managerial experience in the major leagues. The Mariners, who are also believed to have met with Terry Collins, also are setting up meetings, or seeking permission to do so, with Don Baylor and Jimy Williams.
The Mariners also are interested in Buddy Bell, Jerry Manuel, Lee Elia and Mike Hargrove. Club officials plan to select several candidates next week to meet with CEO Howard Lincoln and one or more team owners, most likely Chris Larson.
In addition to Little, the Phillies are believed to have Baylor on their list, as well as Charlie Manuel and Jim Fregosi.
Little, considered patient and positive, developed Chipper Jones and other Braves prospects while managing in Atlanta's farm system. He also seemed to have good rapport with veterans in Boston.
And if Seattle decides to try to sign free agents like Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe or Nomar Garciaparra, Little could be a significant plus.
Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or email@example.com
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