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Sox peddle job to Maddon

Great deal of ground covered in sit down with Angel coach

PHOENIX -- For riding your bike, which is something Joe Maddon lives to do, Denver is the best city in the big leagues. "There are bike trails right in the center of town that will bring you everywhere, past the new football stadium, Coors Field, all over," said Maddon, who always takes his bike, a Track 77 FX, on the road with him.

But for his first managing job in the big leagues, Maddon would be perfectly content with Boston, a place in which he not only enjoys the bike rides ("I go from MIT to Harvard to Boston College -- makes me feel more intelligent") but figures would be an ideal fit for a 49-year-old man with East Coast roots (Pennsylvania), a feel for statistical analysis, a commoner's touch with people, and an appreciation for what it means to be in charge of the Olde Towne Team.

Maddon, bench coach for the Anaheim Angels, became the fourth candidate to interview for the Sox' managing vacancy when he met here for several hours yesterday afternoon with general manager Theo Epstein and his assistant, Josh Byrnes. Maddon didn't get the full Monty -- CEO Larry Lucchino was not present for the interview, nor did he have to go through a press conference like the two previous applicants, A's bench coach Terry Francona and Dodgers third base coach Glenn Hoffman. But Maddon said a great deal of ground was covered in the time he spent with Epstein and Byrnes. "I dare you to find anybody more prepared than those two people," he said.

Maddon, who has never managed in the big leagues except in two stints as an interim manager in Anaheim, recognizes that some people might question why the Sox would hire a managing novice for one of the plum jobs in the industry.

"I can understand why," he said. "But I've been in the major leagues as a coach for 10 years, so I've been doing this awhile. The people here have interviewed several candidates and will assess who fits best for their vision of the Red Sox' future. If they determine that it will be someone with less experience than me, that's fine. If it's someone with more, I understand that, too."

He also acknowledged that regardless of whom the Sox choose, that man will have a "very difficult" assignment winning over a clubhouse that was outspoken in its affection and respect for Grady Little, the deposed Sox manager who finished fourth in the American League's Manager of the Year balloting yesterday.

"It's not going to be easy," Maddon said.

Maddon said he was satisfied that the Sox were not fazed by the fact that he never played big-league baseball; he never advanced past Single A ball. "They called me," he said. "I didn't call them."

Maddon, who scored high marks from present and past Sox officials for his organizational skills and a winning way with players, said he is well aware of the pressure that comes with the job.

"It's one thing to be sitting here in a hotel in November," he said. "It's a lot cooler than sitting in Boston in July, when the situation may not be as cool, and come across the same way. Can I do it? I don't know, and I won't know until I'm put in that situation." . . .

The Red Sox had assessed their chances of trading for Curt Schilling as a long shot at best, and now you can apparently downgrade them to nil. The Diamondbacks righthander, who has a no-trade clause, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that while he would entertain the possibility of going to either the Phillies, his former team, or the Yankees, he would veto a trade to Boston, the organization with which he began his professional career. Schilling said as a fly ball pitcher who gives up home runs, Fenway Park would not be an ideal place for him to play . . . The Sox have signed outfielder Adam Hyzdu as a six-year minor league free agent, the third go-round with the organization for the 32-year-old righthanded hitter, who apparently will get a chance to win a job as a backup righthanded-hitting outfielder after playing parts of the last four seasons with the Pirates. Hyzdu was with Trenton in 1996 and Pawtucket in '97, and again with Pawtucket in 99 . . . Reliever Mike Timlin's signing could take place before the end of the week. The sides are closing in on a one-year deal with a club option for Timlin, who will be 38 March 10 but ranked 10th in the AL in appearances with 72. The on-base average against Timlin last season was just .268, which ranked seventh in the league, and he held righthanded hitters to a .198 average, ninth in the AL. . . .

Sox assistant GM Mike Port will be honored for his service to the Arizona Fall League in a pregame ceremony tonight at Scottsdale Stadium. Port is in his last year of his contract with the Red Sox, and there has been speculation here that he could possibly join new Seattle GM Bill Bavasi, with whom he worked for years in Anaheim . . . Sox reliever Byung Hyun Kim was questioned by police yesterday in Seoul in connection with an incident in which he is alleged to have struck a newspaper photographer. Kim admitted on his website to breaking the photographer's camera but denies striking the man . . . While the Dodgers have been listening to offers for pitcher Odalis Perez, including one reported proposal in which the Cardinals would surrender outfielder Jim Edmonds, they apparently have little interest in Trot Nixon, a deal that was discussed at the trading deadline . . . One reliever the Sox have yet to inquire about, somewhat surprisingly, is Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who as a Mariner last season led AL relievers in earned run average (1.48). Hasegawa's agent, Gregg Clifton, said yesterday he has yet to hear from the Sox.

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