BOSTON—The Boston Red Sox are looking for a strong voice in a clubhouse that disintegrated in September amid reports of players drinking beer and eating fried chicken during games.
Pete Mackanin thinks he might be able to provide it.
"I feel like I have leadership qualities and I feel like I can help this franchise get back to where it once was," he told reporters on Monday night after interviewing to be the Red Sox manager to rebuild from the worst September collapse in baseball history. "Not that it was ever gone from anything, but I guess there was a little hiccup here last year. We're going to put it behind us and move on."
The Red Sox opened their managerial search by interviewing Mackanin, the Philadelphia Phillies bench coach. Former Boston third base coach Dale Sveum is scheduled for an interview on Wednesday, and general manager Ben Cherington says there could be five or six candidates in the first round of interviews in all.
"It could be more. We're still working on the rest of that list," Cherington said.
The Red Sox parted ways with Terry Francona, who won two World Series in Boston, after he admitted losing the clubhouse during a 7-20 September that left the ballclub one game short of the playoffs. Asked if he was more of a players' manager or a disciplinarian, Mackanin said he was able to be both.
"I think you have to have an element of both sides of that in order to be a good motivator," he said. "I think there's a juggling act that's involved in that, where you have to have enough discipline but at the same time let the players play easy. You don't want them tense."
Mackanin declined to evaluate the team's collapse, saying he was more worried about the Phillies at the time. He wouldn't say whether he would allow beer in the clubhouse if he gets the job.
"You know what, I don't want to go there," he said. "I'm not at that point yet. I'd rather not discuss that. We can talk about that later."
A second baseman who spent 548 games over nine seasons with the Rangers, Expos, Phillies and Twins, Mackanin brings a well-rounded resume with him, including work as a minor- and major-league player, a scout and advance scout, a third base coach, infield and outfield instructor, minor league coordinator, "and just about everything except manager."
He later remembered that he had in fact managed in the big leagues: on an interim basis for the Reds in 2007 and Pirates in 2005. He has also worked in the Expos, Pirates and Yankees systems, as well as in the Caribbean, South America and Australia.
"So I'd like to think it's time for me to manage at this level," he said. "I don't ask (why). My wife asks me all the time. Of course I've wondered and I don't know. Whatever happens happens. I'm good with it. I'm happy to have an opportunity just to have somebody listen to me."
Also Monday, the Red Sox declined contract options on relievers Dan Wheeler and Scott Atchison. The Red Sox retain control over Atchison, but can sign him for a lower salary; Wheeler also remains an option, Cherington said.
"We didn't feel like we could commit to that money for him this early in the offseason," he said. "We'll keep the door open."
Cherington said he has also talked to the agents for David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, who are both free agents, but that it is unlikely an agreement would be reached before the exclusive negotiating window closes on Thursday.
Cherington also said that no agreement has been reached with the Chicago Cubs for compensation for former GM Theo Epstein. Commissioner Bud Selig had set a Tuesday deadline, saying he would step in and settle it if an agreement hadn't been reached; more conversations were planned, Cherington said.
"We've always felt like that was a possibility," Cherington said. "It's a difficult deal to work out because its hard to quantify the value of Theo Epstein. I have an idea of it and Theo doesn't think he's worth as much. So we haven't been able to bridge that gap yet. I think both sides are comfortable with that outcome of it happens that way."
Also, John Lackey is scheduled for previously announced Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.