October 31, 2014

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Former Nationals manager Acta first up to interview for Tribe job

CLEVELAND — Manny Acta took his swings Tuesday at Progressive Field as the first of a handful of finalists to be granted an interview for the Indians’ managerial job.

Acta

Acta

Next up is Triple-A Columbus manager Torey Lovullo, who is scheduled to be interviewed Friday. Bobby Valentine, who has held multiple managerial positions in the majors and in Japan, will also be interviewed in Cleveland, but no date has been set.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said another finalist has current obligations, most likely the postseason, which is in its League Championship Series phase, with the Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees and Angels all alive. The candidate is believed to be Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly, a former Yankees great who held the same position in New York from 2004-06, also serving as the bench coach in 2007.

When the process began, Shapiro said he wanted to have a manager in place by the end of the World Series, which would put time constraints on hiring Mattingly, should the Dodgers advance to the Fall Classic.

“I still hope we can get it done by the end of the World Series,” Shapiro said. “I would still think that’s probably a realistic time frame.

“But if we feel there’s a reason because who may be the best candidate is not available (now), there’s no reason to set a time limit.”

Absent from the list of finalists are fan favorites Mike Hargrove and Travis Fryman, who along with five or six others, according to Shapiro, were notified that they were no longer in the running.

Shapiro didn’t feel Fryman, who has managed Cleveland’s Class A affiliate Mahoning Valley for the past two years, had enough experience. Hargrove, who won five Central Division titles and two American League championships from 1991-99 with Cleveland, has also managed in Baltimore and Seattle.

“Mike and I talked a couple times, and I have an immense amount of respect for him,” said Shapiro, who was Cleveland’s director of minor league operations from 1994-98 and assistant GM in 1999 during Hargrove’s tenure in Cleveland. “I made the decision that at this time it wasn’t the right fit for a variety of reasons.”

Acta, the former Washington Nationals manager, met with ownership and members of Cleveland’s front office for close to eight hours before talking with reporters for around 30 minutes.

“I think it went very well,” Acta said of the interview. “I’ve been very impressed throughout the whole process. They’re going to have a tough decision to make, and I think they’re going to make the right one.”

Acta, 40, is also a finalist for the open managerial spot in Houston, where he spent 16 years in the minor league system as a player and coach.

Acta had a rough go of it in Washington, where he compiled a 158-252 record over two-plus seasons for a team that had been in existence for two years when he took over. He was fired in July with the Nationals sporting the worst record in baseball at 26-61.

Acta has big-league managerial experience, but not the big-name that fans covet, which he feels makes him a good fit in Cleveland. The Indians are in a rebuilding phase after finishing in last place in the Central Division with a 65-97 record and firing former manager Eric Wedge, following a seven-year tenure.

“Everybody in this town and probably every town in America would want a top guy, a Joe Torre, a Tony LaRussa, one of those guys to walk in and manage their club,” Acta said. “The reality is those guys don’t go for those jobs. Those type of jobs go to guys like me.”

Shapiro is predicting an extensive interviewing process before the club finds its manager.

“The process has gone about how we thought,” he said. “We’ve got to do a lot more work to determine everything about the guy.

“We’re trying to be as comprehensive as we can, not just to get a feel for the guy but to get a real understanding of his personality, his character, his vision for a team, his ability to lead a team and his fit with the Cleveland Indians and our organization.”

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.