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Sveum hopes Red Sox will wave him in

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By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 3, 2011

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Dale Sveum helped the Red Sox win the World Series as their third base coach in 2004, an experience he treasures. But few fans were sorry to see him leave after the 2005 season.

Sveum wasn’t afraid to take chances, and that led to a series of runners being thrown out at the plate, particularly in the second half of the 2004 season. For a week or two, some particularly rabid fans wanted him removed from the coach’s box.

“I’m glad I was scrutinized for being aggressive instead of passive,’’ Sveum said. “I’m not a very passive person. I’m a very aggressive person and I always have been.

“Don’t get me wrong, I made a couple decisions I’d like to have back, and maybe a comment or two in the paper.’’

Sveum felt the hysteria bordered on the comical, but he never lost faith in his knowledge and instincts. The Red Sox supported him, and when he left to join the Milwaukee coaching staff, it was on his own accord.

Now the Red Sox may want him back, this time as manager. Sveum, the hitting coach of the Brewers, was at Fenway Park yesterday to interview for the job previously held by his friend Terry Francona.

The Red Sox interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin Monday, and general manager Ben Cherington has requested permission to speak with two other candidates and is waiting to hear back from their teams.

Cherington did not reveal any names. But the Red Sox are believed to be interested in Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., and possibly Rays bench coach Dave Martinez.

The Red Sox could start to find some competition for the best candidates. The Cardinals are seeking a new manager with the retirement of Tony La Russa, and now the Cubs are in the market after firing Mike Quade yesterday.

Cherington and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the former Sox GM, could find themselves vying for the same candidates given their shared sensibilities. But Cherington does not expect that to be a roadblock to getting the man he wants.

“It’s possible we’ll be talking to some of the same people,’’ Cherington said. “The teams are at different stages, the cities are different. I think the right manager in Boston is not necessarily the right manager in Chicago.’’

Cherington and Epstein vetted Red Sox managerial candidates together for about 10 days in October.

“Since Theo left, our list has probably changed a little bit,’’ said Cherington, noting that the type of manager he is personally comfortable with might not be the same as Epstein’s choice.

Given his love of Boston and Fenway Park, Sveum hopes he emerges as the best candidate.

“It’s the ultimate place to ever be,’’ said Sveum. “There’s nothing like Fenway Park. There’s nothing like Boston the city, the passion the people have for the Boston Red Sox.

“You just can’t replace that feeling every night coming to a ballpark. You play 162 games, and when you get to play 81 of them in Fenway Park, it’s not too tough to come to the ballpark every day when you play in front of those kind of fans.’’

Sveum, who turns 48 this month, was the interim manager of the Brewers for the final 12 games of the 2008 season. He led Milwaukee to seven victories and a berth in the playoffs. The Brewers lost their Division Series against the Phillies in four games.

Sveum hoped to keep the job, but the Brewers wanted more experience and hired Ken Macha. Sveum stayed on the staff, working under Macha and now Ron Roenicke.

“[Managerial] experience is one thing,’’ said Sveum. “I’ve experienced a great deal. I’ve been around a lot in my career.’’

Sveum has three years of minor league managing experience. He also played for several accomplished managers during his 12-year career, including La Russa, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella, and Jim Leyland.

Sveum feels the key to managing is earning the respect of the players.

“I don’t let things fester,’’ he said. “If I see something that is disrespecting me or disrespecting the game or the teammates that I’m managing, I’ll have a problem with that and I’ll take care of that at that given time.

“You have to get players to respect you to play for you. If they don’t respect you, then you get a lot of issues that start creeping up. If they respect you, they’re usually going to play for you and do things the right way professionally.’’

That attitude will be seen as a plus for Sveum, given the clubhouse issues that contributed to the September collapse of the Red Sox.

Sveum also spoke of his affinity for using statistics to reach players and prepare for games.

“There’s some really cool stuff,’’ he said.

Sveum has a good reputation for his work with hitters and ability to position players defensively.

“He’s a passionate baseball guy. We knew that when he was here,’’ said Cherington, who was impressed with the feedback he got from people who have worked with Sveum.

“He’s familiar with the city, familiar with some people in the organization. He’s had a little bit of managerial experience, albeit brief. He’s got a lot of the qualities that we’re looking for in an interview candidate.’’

And Cherington is not worried about having to sell Sveum to skeptical fans who remember the misadventures at third base.

“I don’t see how that’s relevant,’’ said Cherington. “He’s done a lot of different things in baseball.

“We’re looking at the entire body of work. I think his experience as a third base coach is a benefit to him. He’s been through some adversity in Boston and a lot of our candidates won’t have been through that.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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