The St. Louis Cardinals have received permission from the Philadelphia Phillies to interview Ryne Sandberg for their vacant managerial job, a baseball source familiar with the situation confirmed to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
Sandberg is a franchise icon with the Chicago Cubs, and he was a finalist last year to replace Lou Piniella as manager. But Mike Quade, who was informed he will not return as Cubs manager Wednesday, got the job after leading the Cubs to a 24-13 record in the final six weeks after Piniella retired. Chicago finished 71-91 in 2011.
Epstein said Thursday that he called Sandberg on Wednesday and told him he will not be considered for the managerial vacancy with the team this time around.
"After I talked to Mike I called Ryne and he immediately called me back," Epstein said. "I told him what I was expecting in a manager, and I told him I was impressed with what he had done. I told him he had a great future on a big-league staff and as a big-league manager someday. He was very gracious, and he wished us luck with the Cubs and wished me luck personally."
Sandberg came away from the conversation impressed.
"He didn't owe me that at all," Sandberg told the Daily Herald. "He didn't have to do that. It was a classy move and I'm very appreciative of the phone call. In the end, I wished him and everybody there good luck.''
Epstein said he wouldn't rule out hiring Sandberg as a coach if he doesn't land a manager job.
"We have to weigh all the factors accordingly. But again I wouldn't rule anything out," Epstein said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported the Cardinals are planning to interview former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny, White Sox coach Joe McEwing, and Chris Maloney, who manages Triple-A Memphis.
The Phillies hired Sandberg to manage their Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, last November.
Sandberg was a 10-time All-Star and won nine Gold Gloves during his 16-year career with the Cubs and Phillies. He finished his Hall of Fame career with a .285 batting average, 282 home runs, 1,061 RBIs and 344 stolen bases. When he retired, his 277 homers as a second baseman was a major league record.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Monday became the first manager to retire immediately after leading his team to a World Series title -- the third of his career.
Information from ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine and The Associated Press was used in this report.