Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland said he plans to honor his two-year contract and that he has not been contacted about interviewing for the Chicago White Sox job.
White Sox general manager Ron Schueler said yesterday that he would be interested in talking to Leyland, but speculated Leyland doesn't want to leave Pittsburgh.
Schueler was Leyland's pitching coach in 1986, Leyland's first season in Pittsburgh. The White Sox's managerial vacancy opened last week when Jeff Torborg left to manage the New York Mets.
"I remember when I was there how much he liked Pittsburgh, and now they have a baby," Schueler said. "I know they have a big, old house that they've fixed up. Just being optimistic, I'd love to ,, have him. I coached for him. But I'd say the chances are very remote."
Leyland was the White Sox's third-base coach before being hired by Pittsburgh and is aware of the rumor linking him to Chicago.
"I have no reason to believe they're interested, and I haven't heard a word from anybody," Leyland said.
Pirates general manager Larry Doughty said he wouldn't stand in Leyland's way if the White Sox wanted to talk to Leyland. However, the Pirates' ownership might balk, considering Leyland signed a contract extension through the 1993 season only a year ago.
"That kind of surprised me," Leyland said of Doughty's remark. "I don't think they'll even ask. My plan is to honor my contract. I can't be bought. I just want a chance to compete."
In another development, Mark Sauer, former chief operating officer of the St. Louis Cardinals, is a leading candidate to become president of the Pirates, according to published reports.
The Pittsburgh Press reported that Sauer is a top candidate to replace Carl Barger, who resigned in August to become president of the expansion Florida Marlins.
Pirates board chairman Douglas Danforth has narrowed to field to two candidates, whom he hasn't identified. Paul Martha, vice president of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, is among those who have interviewed.
Sauer worked for 7-Up International before joining Anheuser-Busch, the Cardinals' owners. He was vice president of the Anheuser-Busch's entertainment division, which runs theme parks such as Busch Gardens, before transferring to the baseball operations.
Sauer was considered the heir apparent to the Cardinals' presidency but resigned after a year, apparently when Fred Kuhlmann decided to remain as president.
Sauer is president of the Keil Center Partnership, which is turning St. Louis' former Kiel Auditorium into a new arena for hockey.
* BRAVES: Atlanta fans welcomed the team home yesterday as iit had won the World Series.
"It's crazy," said pitcher John Smoltz, smiling at the fans who greeted the team after its arrival at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport at 3:15 a.m. "I can just imagine if we'd won two games.
"We didn't do what we were supposed to do" in Minneapolis, he said. "Hopefully, we can make them proud."
It was the first time the Braves had been in Atlanta since winning the National League playoffs in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
About 100 fans chanted and did the tomahawk chop to greet the team at the airport. At the stadium, another 150 cheering fans, many college students, chanted, "We Love Gant," when Ron Gant walked to his car.
* BREWERS: General manager Sal Bando will interview Pittsburgh third-base coach Gene Lamont for the vacant manager's job.