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Friday, October 22, 2004
Final three: Melvin, Acta and Backman

Associated Press

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks have narrowed their list of managerial candidates to former Seattle manager Bob Melvin; Manny Acta, who spent three years as Montreal's third-base coach; and minor league manager Wally Backman.

Arizona general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said Friday he was putting together a schedule in which the three finalists would interview with higher team officials next week.

"We'd like to do that as soon as possible, and we'd certainly like to accomplish that next week," Garagiola said. "We'll see how everyone's schedule works out."

Garagiola also said he will meet Tuesday with Casey Close, the agent for Richie Sexson, the slugging first baseman whose shoulder injuries early in the season put an end to Sexson's first year with the Diamondbacks. The loss of Sexson was the most costly in a series of injuries that started Arizona skidding to a 51-111 record, the worst in franchise history.

The free agency filing period begins the day after the World Series ends.

Garagiola acknowledged that most players would like to know who would manage them.

"I think it would be a consideration for anyone considering the Diamondbacks who's the manager, what's his staff like," Garagiola said. "If we're talking a pitcher, who's the pitching coach would be important, so this is an important order of business to take care of, and we're pursuing it as diligently as we can."

The Diamondbacks fired manager Bob Brenly on July 2 and replaced him with Al Pedrique, the former third base coach.

Pedrique was among eight managerial applicants interviewed in the last two weeks.

Melvin and Backman have ties with the Diamondbacks.

Melvin was Arizona's bench coach before he left to manage the Mariners, and Backman managed Arizona's Class A team in Lancaster, Calif., this season.