The saga that has become the Toronto Blue Jays’ managerial search took another twist Thursday.
While several sources reported Wednesday that the team had narrowed its short list of possible candidates down to three, it appears current bench coach Brian Butterfield is still in the mix.
According to WEEI.com, a Boston-based sports website, “an industry source” confirmed the 52-year-old is indeed a finalist, along with DeMario Hale, John Farrell, and Sandy Alomar Jr.
The National Post contacted Butterfield at his home in Maine, Wednesday night, and he remained optimistic despite revealing that he had not been contacted for a second interview in over a month.
“I’m looking at it as no news is good news,” Butterfield told the Post.
This comes just one day after several sources picked up a Comcast Sportsnet New England report, labeling Farrell (Boston’s pitching coach) and Hale (Boston’s bench coach), as well as Alomar Jr., (Cleveland’s first base coach) as the final contenders for the job.
The report, by Sean Mc-Adam, claimed that the three had already interviewed multiple times by phone as well as once in person, while the Sporting News’ website said Hale is scheduled to have another interview in Toronto next week.
However, Toronto GM Alex Anthopolous has remained tight-lipped, leaving the media guessing. He told TheScore.com Thursday via e-mail, that in fairness to all candidates he would not comment on the evaluation process.
Anthopolous has spoken with over 14 candidates in October, and actually started his search from a list of over 200 names last month.
“You would love to get it [naming a manager] done sooner than later, but at the same time, it takes as long as it takes to get it right,” Anthopoulos told reporters at the end of the season.
Since then, many names have been mentioned as key contenders only to disappear as apparent rumours. Eric Wedge was said to be a front-runner before landing in Seattle with the Mariners on Monday.
Meanwhile, Cito Gaston’s pick for a replacement, Don Baylor, was dismissed as a candidate Tuesday, receiving the news via a phone-call from Anthopolous.
“They told me I wasn’t one of the final guys,” Baylor said to the Toronto Sun, Tuesday afternoon.
Anthopolous has taken a meticulous approach to his interview process, but never said he needs a candidate with managerial experience at the MLB level.
“I want the right guy. I can’t tell you who that is yet because I haven’t been through it, but I think the right guy will present himself, and if that means someone who hasn’t [managed] before, I’m fine with it.
“If it’s someone who has 20 or 30 years of experience I’m fine with that as well,” Anthopolous told reporters Sept. 22.
If Butterfield doesn’t get the job with the Jays, he’s been rumoured as a candidate for a bench coach position with the Baltimore Orioles.
Buck Showalter, who became the Orioles bench-boss on Aug. 2, recently told his inherited coaches that they could pursue new jobs in the off-season.
As numerous media outlets have pointed out, Butterfield and Showalter coached together in Arizona, as well as with the New York Yankees, and are very close friends.
Asked at the end of the season if he could see himself with Showalter in Baltimore, Butterfield seemed torn.
“Most definitely, but who knows what the future holds … I like it here an awful lot,” Butterfield told Bluejays.com. “I like the people here, I like the players here, I like the people who work upstairs.”