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10/22/09 4:57 PM ET
Valentine interviews with Indians
Former Major League manager feels conflicted about job
By Steve Herrick / Special to MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Bobby Valentine had a simple reason for being in town Thursday to talk about being the new manager of the Cleveland Indians. "I'm a baseball manager and they're looking to hire one of those type guys," Valentine said. "They have a Major League Baseball team and there are 30 of them in the world. I think those 30 people are special and lucky people. I consider myself lucky to be considered." Valentine, who has managed the past six seasons in Japan, is working as an analyst for ESPN during the postseason. He was the second managerial finalist to have a sit-down interview. Former Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta was interviewed in Cleveland on Tuesday. Torey Lovullo, who has managed the Indians' Triple-A team the past four seasons, will be in town on Friday. Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly is the fourth known finalist. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Tuesday he's also considering two unnamed candidates. After meeting with Shapiro and several other front-office members, Valentine had a candid 35-minute press conference in which he expressed both his desire and doubts about whether he would like to be the Indians' 40th manager. "From afar, I've had a chance of hearing about and observing the baseball culture of the Cleveland Indians," Valentine said. "I got to see it first hand. I'm very impressed." The Indians finished 65-97 this year, which led to the firing of Eric Wedge and his coaching staff. Staff ace Cliff Lee and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez highlighted the list of veteran players who were traded during the season. Those moves will leave the new manager in Cleveland with a rebuilding project. That's something Valentine, who has managed in the Majors for 15 years and took the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000, isn't completely sure he wants to be involved with. "I don't know that's exactly the thing I want to do right now, either," Valentine said. "I'm not sure that's what I want to do, but, again, I haven't been offered a job so I don't have to decide whether or not I definitely want to do this." With rebuilding comes losing and Valentine admits handling defeat isn't one of his strong points. "I really am a lousy loser," he said. "As a matter of fact, we talked about that in the interview process. If, in fact, all I was going to do was sign up to manage a losing team and all I was going to be hired for was to get one more win than another guy, I don't think I'd be here. I think I'm being asked to be part of a process that might be lasting and might be special. I like special things." After spending the past six years managing in Japan, Valentine knows he has a lot of catching up to do with Major League Baseball and the Indians, in particular. "I don't know as much about Cleveland as someone interviewing for their manager's job should," Valentine said. "I could have crammed for the last six days and read every article and called every friend and got every little bit of information, just in case one of you guys asked me who the starting third baseman should be next year and I didn't do it." Valentine hasn't managed in the Majors since 2002, his last year with the Mets. He hasn't been in the American League since 1992, his final year with the Texas Rangers. "I can tell you I don't know about the American League," Valentine said. "I don't know about the [AL] Central and I don't know about the Indians, but I sure as heck am willing to learn and spend about 28 hours a day, if necessary, to know everything I could possibly know." Valentine, 59, managed the Rangers from 1985-92 and was with the Mets from 1996-2002. The Mets reached the postseason twice, losing to the Braves in six games in the National League Championship Series in 1999 and losing in five games to the Yankees in the World Series in 2000. Valentine has a career record of 1,117-1,072 in the Majors, which includes a 581-605 record and four winning seasons in Texas and a 536-467 stint with the Mets. He is the most experienced of the remaining candidates and his energy and outgoing personality would likely be well-received by the media and fans. It remains to be seen if the Indians can afford Valentine, who made about $4 million in Japan last season. Shapiro told reporters after the season that money wouldn't be an issue, even though the Tribe underwent drastic cost-cutting measures and still owe Wedge $1.3 million for next season.
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.