By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — For those hoping and wishing and praying that Barry Larkin will be the next manager of the Cincinnati Reds, well, your hopes, wishes and prayers won’t be answered.
Barry Larkin doesn’t want it. Not at this time, Maybe down the road, but not now.
This startling information comes from President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams, who indicated that Larkin was offered an interview, but turned it down.
Williams said that internal interviews were conducted earlier this week when the club was in Miami and included coaches Pat Kelly, Billy Hatcher and Freddie Benavides. Both Kelly and Benavides have minor league managerial experience, Benavides at Class A Dayton, and Hatcher does not.
Williams said one other internal candidate will be interviewed, former Toronto-Boston manager John Farrell, and that interim manager Jim Riggleman will get his time at the dinner table, too, shortly after the season concludes.
“I’ve talked to Barry Larkin a number of times and he is not a candidate to be our manager next year,” said Williams. “We have had several great conversations about his future with our organization. He is really happy with what he is doing (minor league instructor), he thinks he can help in a lot of ways and he has been helping in a lot of ways.
“He still has managing as a long-term goal and I am in support of that and the organization is in support of that,” Williams added. “He’ll continue to work on his skill set to prepare for managing. Some day he can do anything in this game he puts his mind to doing, but right now he really feels he is making an impact in the minor leagues and he wants to grow that role.”
So, the search is under way and day-long interviews with external candidates, that probably includes dinner, will commence when the season ends.
“This is really a critical decision for the organization,” Williams said. “If done correctly, interviews take a long time to prepare. These are not, ‘Let’s spend an hour and talk about your wife and kids.’ This is a really intensive process to go through to find the person who is going to lead your organization on the field, away from the field — really set the tone for the whole organization. We’ve spent a lot of time researching the candidates that we want to talk to, spent a lot of time creating the interview’s questions and what we want to ask.”
Williams hopes to have the new manager in place by the end of October so a new skipper will be in place for RedsFest and the winter meetings.
“My hope would be by the end of October we will have a manager in place,” he said. “We will work hard to conduct a number of interviews the first two weeks of October. So it is possible to be sooner than that. And then we could have a coaching staff in place before the winter meetings.”
About Riggleman, Williams laid on some heavy praise for what he has done under difficult times.
“Jim Riggleman has handled this part of the process as professionally as can be imagined,” said Williams. “What a wonderful job he did stepping in during a tough situation and leading this team the rest of the year.
“Then to go through all this, knowing we were going through this process,” said Williams. “We have been as transparent with him as we could, by design. But still, to go through this knowing we are interviewing some of the coaches and knowing after the season we will interview external candidates — he has been extremely co-operative, very up front, and I look forward to our discussion after the season.”
ON ANOTHER FRONT, the Reds are returning to Chattanooga as their Class AA affiliate, a two-year agreement, after the Pensacola Blue Wahoos told the Reds they wanted to explore options with other teams.
The Reds once had a long-term 21-year working agreement with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League from 1988 to 2008.
“We’re excited to re-affiliate with the Chattanooga Lookouts,” said Williams. “It is a great move for us because we are coming back into Reds country. It is a great place for our Double-A players to train. The owner told me, and I didn’t know this, that the Reds get very high TV ratings there, second only to the Atlanta Braves. We’re available on their cable package. We consider Tennessee part of Reds Country.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kansas City manager Ned Yost on The Shift: “I’ve learned I don’t like it a lot. We use it, but you get burned by it as much as it benefits us. The numbers compared to playing the shift and not playing the shift are about the same. All it has done is make the single obsolete.”