Hargrove wants in again

ON BASEBALL

Baseball

A Look Inside

September 26, 2004|By JOE CHRISTENSEN

The one-year anniversary of his firing by the Orioles comes Wednesday, and Mike Hargrove is biding his time, waiting for another chance to manage.

He spent the season as a senior adviser for the Cleveland Indians, which gave him a chance to stay close to the game while basically enjoying his first summer off since 1971.

But at age 54, he still has that desire to run his own team.

"I'd like a another shot at getting to the World Series and winning a World Series," Hargrove said in a telephone interview last week. "Having a summer off has been nice, but it's made me realize that I'd still like to manage again, hopefully by next year."

The regular season ends next Sunday, and while Hargrove said no teams have contacted him, there are several potential openings.

The New York Mets fired Art Howe, who agreed to finish the season, and even if the Mets wanted Lou Piniella, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays probably won't let him out of his contract.

The Houston Astros (Phil Garner), Toronto Blue Jays (John Gibbons) and Arizona Diamondbacks (Al Pedrique) have interim managers in place. Speculation has Garner and Gibbons returning, with Pedrique likely getting replaced after Arizona finishes its dismal season.

Jim Tracy is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he looks safe, even though that team was frittering away its National League West lead last week.

"I'm not going to be swayed by what happens on the field these final two weeks," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "I'm still very happy with the job [the staff] has done, and that's not going to change because of the outcome of this pennant race."

Last month, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ed Wade said no decisions on manager Larry Bowa would be made until after the season, leading most to assume Bowa was toast.

Other managers facing uncertain futures include Seattle's Bob Melvin, Montreal's Frank Robinson and, sure enough, the Orioles' Lee Mazzilli.

Hargrove has amassed 996 wins as a big league manager. He won five consecutive division titles with the Cleveland Indians, advancing to the World Series twice. So it's hard to imagine him taking on a rebuilding project like the ones expected in Toronto and Arizona.

The most likely fits would be the Phillies or the Mets. Going to Philadelphia would give Hargrove a chance to reunite with former Indians slugger Jim Thome, and the entire Phillies team probably would embrace Hargrove as a welcome relief from the high-strung Bowa.

Hargrove's only taste of the NL came as a player with the San Diego Padres in 1979, but he said he would welcome a chance to manage in that league, even with all the double-switch complexities.

"I talked to Tony La Russa a number of years ago, after he took the Cardinals job, and he told me it's something I should do before it's all said and done," Hargrove said. "I haven't been leery of doing it. As a matter of fact, I think I'd enjoy it."

Any team would be wise to give him a chance.

Mulder raises concerns

Two months ago, Oakland Athletics pitcher Mark Mulder looked like the American League's Cy Young favorite. Now he looks like a mess.

His ERA since the start of August is 6.23, and after getting shelled for nine runs (five earned) in four-plus innings Tuesday against Texas, he laid into himself.

"It was horrible; it was embarrassing," Mulder said. "It's been like this for a while. Something needs to happen. I'm not doing the team any good. It's almost ridiculous. I almost feel like a hitter who has gone 0-for-100. If there's a chance to make a bad pitch, I have. If there's a big situation to make a good pitch, I don't. It's frustrating."

Mulder, who takes the mound tonight against the Anaheim Angels, has two regular-season starts remaining, and he'll likely face the Angels again Friday.

A scout who saw Mulder pitch recently said, "He doesn't look healthy," but Mulder insisted, "[Health] has zero to do with it."

Jottings

Ichiro Suzuki set a Japanese record in 1994 when he recorded 210 hits, and the experience might have helped him as he approaches George Sisler's record of 257 hits in the majors.

"There were some numbers, but I never looked at other names," Suzuki said. "I wanted to focus on my game. I've never had the interest to see what others have done. Records are for fans to enjoy. I think it won't be until after [retirement] that I will be able to look back and see what I've done as a player."

Angels owner Arte Moreno told The Orange County Register that he'll take a financial loss this year, declining to say how much, but the team's payroll is expected to come down about $20 million next year from its current $112 million level.

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