Saturday, October 12, 2013
Sources: Cubs eye Latin American presence
By Jesse Rogers
The Chicago Cubs lacked a prominent Latin American coaching presence in their dugout the past two seasons, and they will look to address the issue as they hire a new manager and coaches, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Several Latin American candidates have emerged in the Cubs' search to replace Dale Sveum. Former Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians manager and current ESPN analyst Manny Acta interviewed with the Cubs this week. San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria is also expected to interview, according to a source. Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., who interviewed for the Cubs job before Sveum was hired in 2011, and former Cub Dave Martinez could be options, as well.
The Cubs' Franklin Font, a staff assistant, was the lone Latin American coach on the previous staff. In fact, the Cubs have only two Latin American rostered coaches in their minor league system.
The Cubs have several core Latin American players, including Starlin Castro, Junior Lake and Welington Castillo. Prominent minor leaguers Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez are on the way. There also is a belief in the Cubs' front office, sources said, that Castro, who had the worst season of his career, could have benefited from having a Latin American coach on staff this season.
The move to add more Latin American coaches to the system would be consistent with the team's commitment to developing talent in the region. The Cubs are constructing a training facility in the Dominican Republic.
"It's about doing everything we can to be the best organization in baseball, and you can't be the best organization in baseball unless you have a strong presence in the Dominican and a strong presence in Latin America," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told MLB.com when the Cubs unveiled the plans for the facility in January 2012.
Forgetting the other aspects of the job, Alomar might be the best candidate to fill this role, although he has not been contacted about the job, according to a source. He's not so far removed from playing that he can't relate to current players and he has the respect of many around the league.