Over more than two decades, Sandy Alomar Jr. has been an All-Star player, coach and interim manager for the Cleveland Indians.
On Thursday, he was something new: an applicant.
Alomar, who guided Cleveland in its final six games after Manny Acta was fired last week, interviewed to become the Indians’ next full-time manager. Alomar spent most of the day in meetings with owner Paul Dolan, general manager Chris Antonetti and other front office members at Progressive Field, a place he knows well after playing 11 seasons with Cleveland.
Alomar and former Phillies and Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who will interview with the club today, head the list of possible replacements for Acta.
Antonetti was impressed with the job Alomar did in his short stint replacing Acta, who was dismissed after Cleveland collapsed in the second half of the season.
“As expected, Sandy did a great job,” Antonetti said. “There was a lot to work through especially for someone who does not have that extensive managing experience so he was doing a lot of things for the first time. But he did an exceptional job in how he went about preparing for it, reaching out to coaches, how he communicated with players and putting himself and the team in a position to succeed.
“In a short time he did a good job.”
The Indians went 3-3 under Alomar, a six-time All-Star catcher with Cleveland who served as Acta’s bench coach this season. Alomar has not managed at any level but previously interviewed with the Chicago Cubs, Boston and Toronto. Antonetti feels the 46-year-old Alomar has paid his dues and is prepared to lead a major league club.
“I fully expect that he’s ready to do the job and be successful at it,” Antonetti said.
Antonetti did not put a timeline on naming a new manager, and said the team would not rush into an important decision following a disappointing season which ended with a 68-94 record and fourth-place finish.
Antonetti said during the interview with Alomar there were discussions on his vision for the ballclub, ability to lead, communication skills and relationships on the club.
“What we are looking for is someone to lead this group of 25 guys,” Antonetti said. “We’re looking for someone who has the ability to motivate a group of guys to achieve and perform at their best. A lot goes into that, a winning environment, a winning culture as well as helping players develop and reach their potential.”
Alomar would seem to be an ideal fit. He knows Cleveland’s roster already and enjoyed a good rapport with many of the Indians’ players. Antonetti said several players made it clear during their exit interviews that they would be happy to play for Alomar.
“I can tell you that Sandy is held in very high regard among our players,” he said.
Alomar also has the support of Cleveland fans, some of whom chanted “San-dy, San-dy” after he came out of the dugout to argue a call earlier this week.
Although Alomar would appear to be the frontrunner because of his close ties to the team, Antonetti said there isn’t a favorite.
“I wouldn’t give anyone a leg up in the process,” he said. “We feel good about the two initial candidates that we have identified.”