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Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Mariners
Mariners like Little, Hargrove

By Bob Finnigan
Seattle Times staff reporter

Mike Hargrove
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With the Mariners' quick search for a manager in its stretch run, Mike Hargrove and Grady Little seem to have become the lead candidates.

Or possibly the only candidates, at least the only ones certain of coming to Seattle today and tomorrow for final interviews as the club presses to hire Bob Melvin's replacement prior to Saturday's Game 1 of the World Series.

Others — such as Buddy Bell, Don Baylor, Jimy Williams and Terry Collins — were thought to be on the short list for Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, who was believed to have more than halved his original group of candidates.

However, only Hargrove, who last managed Baltimore in 2003 and Little, who last managed Boston the same year, are known to have been invited to meet with Seattle CEO Howard Lincoln, team president Chuck Armstrong and team owners, including most likely Chris Larson.

When establishing basic parameters for the hunt for a replacement for Melvin, who was fired after a 99-loss season, Bavasi predicted an expeditious yet exhaustive search.

After going with Melvin, a rookie manager in 2002, the Mariners narrowed their task this time by focusing essentially on candidates with previous managerial experience.

While Melvin was 41 with no time at a big-league helm when appointed as Lou Piniella's successor, Hargrove will turn 55 next Tuesday and has 13 years' experience as a manager in the major leagues. Little is 54 and has 18 years of managing behind him (although just two seasons at the major-league level, with Boston).

In fact, the half-dozen men believed to comprise Seattle's short list — Hargrove, Little, Bell, Baylor, Williams and Collins — average 55 years of age and about a dozen years of big-league managing.

Hargrove managed nine years with Cleveland (1991-99) and took them to the World Series twice, losing to Atlanta in 1995 and to Florida in 1997.

When he was fired by the Indians after winning 97 games in 1999 and losing in the first round of the postseason, Hargrove moved to manage Baltimore, where he was fired after four fourth-place finishes.

Hargrove was an assistant to Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro this year.

Little managed 16 years in the minors for Baltimore and Atlanta, before taking over the Red Sox for seasons of 93 wins and 95 wins in 2002 and 2003. He was fired after Boston lost to the Yankees in the seventh game of the 2003 ALCS.

Little was an assistant to Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry this year.

Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or bfinnigan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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