Chicago Cubs interview Dale Sveum
Both Sveum and Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin first interviewed with the Boston Red Sox before talking with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
Whether Sveum gets a chance to replace Mike Quade in Chicago or Terry Francona on the Red Sox bench remains to be seen.
"They're two of the most prestigious jobs in baseball if not in (all of) sports," Sveum said. "When you're dealing with the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs ... I'm honored to be considered for both of them."
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Sveum's history with Epstein and Hoyer goes back to 2004, when he began a two-year stint as Boston's third base coach before leaving for the Brewers.
"We were very fortunate to win the first World Series in Boston in a very long time," Sveum said. "I was only there two years, but we had a good relationship. It was my first tenure as a coach in the big leagues and he was just starting out as a general manager. It was fun. When you win, it cures a lot of things. But it's not like we kept in touch. But we always have had mutual awareness of each other and respect as well."
Sveum might bring something special to the equation for the Cubs, considering his strong relationship with top-ranked free agent Prince Fielder, whose name has been floated as a possible future Cub. Sveum has been Fielder's hitting coach for the last three seasons.
"Well, wherever he signs they are getting one heck of a guy," Sveum said. "(He's) one of my favorite people I've ever coached. And the way he competes and plays the game hard as he does every night, you wish you had 25 Prince Fielders. The leadership he brings by the way he plays is unmatched by anyone in baseball."
When he served as Boston's third base coach, Sveum was often criticized for an aggressive approach that led to runners being thrown out at the plate. But he was part of a championship team and also is a believer in advanced statistical analysis, which fits with Chicago's new leadership.
"I do my due diligence and video work and prepare as much as anybody," Sveum said. "As far as the stats, those are what they are, and we can use them to our advantage. It's a big part of the game now. It's helping us win a lot of ballgames, the stats and the matchups. That's just part of the game now, and you use what you can. But a lot of that stuff, we do throw out, too."
In Chicago, one number stands above all others -- 103 and counting. The Cubs fired Quade after a 71-91 season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 seasons, and they are in the early stages of a major overhaul.
Sveum couldn't explain why the Cubs have gone so long without winning, saying, "It's the million dollar question. I wish we all had those answers. Being a baseball player and coach for all these years, you always bring the Cubs up and why. It's almost like a fluke that this kind of firepower hasn't won the World Series before."
Sveum, who played 12 seasons with the Brewers and six other teams, did well in his limited run as Milwaukee's manager. He had been the third base coach when he took over on an interim basis in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired following a 3-11 slide in September. Sveum led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, winning six of seven down the stretch and capturing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.
Milwaukee then decided to hire a more experienced manager in the offseason and went with Ken Macha, who lasted two seasons. Sveum stayed on as the hitting coach and oversaw one of the best offenses in the National League last season. With Ryan Braun and Fielder leading the way, the Brewers hit an NL-high 185 homers and were third with a .261 batting average on their way to the NL Central title.
"There's no doubt about it, I wanted that job and felt like it was the right time at that time," Sveum said. "I just moved on. I knew it was going to happen someday that I was going to get an opportunity, so I never lost hope."
A third candidate for the Cubs manager job, Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, will interview on Wednesday, the Cubs confirmed. However, Maddux won't be interviewing with the Red Sox after withdrawing from a scheduled interview in Boston this week. In a statement released Monday night, Maddux said that move was a "family decision."
"My wife and two daughters are together in the same state for the first time in three years and words cannot describe my happiness," Maddux said. "The game of baseball has many sacrifices but being apart from family is the toughest. I feel there is too much distance between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Boston to see my family as much as I'd enjoy."
Sveum and Maddux, who was also waiting to get over an illness before interviewing, coached together in Milwaukee.
"It's just nice to be mentioned with a Mike Maddux," Sveum said. "He'll make a good manager someday, if not this year. And I know I'll be talking to him when he gets over his laryngitis stuff."
Mackanin interviewed with the Cubs on Nov. 4. In addition to Mackanin, Sveum and Maddux, the Cubs are still considering bringing in Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. for an interview. Alomar will interview for the Boston job on Wednesday.
Whoever gets the Chicago job will take over a team coming off a fifth-place finish in the NL Central that is saddled with big contracts belonging to Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs also boast a talented young player in All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro and, now, a management team with a championship pedigree.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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