Cardinals interview Sandberg, Oquendo

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg left his interview with the Cardinals confident he's capable of filling their vacant managerial position.

"It was a comfortable conversation," Sandberg said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "From my standpoint, it went about as well as it could have gone.

"It was a pleasure talking to them and I was honored to have that opportunity," Sandberg said.

Longtime Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo also was interviewed on Wednesday, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press. Both interviews took place in St. Louis, Sandberg in the morning and Oquendo in the afternoon.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.

The Cardinals have interviewed six candidates as possible replacements for Tony La Russa, who retired after winning the World Series last month. The person said no more interviews were anticipated, and a decision could come next week.

"Obviously, it's a gem of a job," said former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, among the candidates, in a telephone interview with the AP.

The general managers' meetings Nov. 15-16 in Milwaukee could delay the process.

Sandberg and Francona, interviewed Wednesday in Cincinnati, are the only candidates without St. Louis ties in the mix to succeed the 67-year-old La Russa, who managed two World Series champions and guided nine teams to the postseason in 16 seasons.

Francona, who parted ways with the Red Sox after eight seasons following a September collapse, said the Cardinals gave him no timetable. Francona declined to say whether he had other interviews scheduled.

"I think everybody's hopeful and I'm probably no different from anybody else," Francona said. "It's not only their right, it's their obligation to get the right person.

"Maybe it'll be me, maybe it'll be some other person," Francona said.

The Cardinals got permission from the Phillies to talk to the 52-year-old Sandberg, well-known by St. Louis fans from his playing career on their team's biggest rival. Sandberg managed Philadelphia's Triple-A team after four seasons managing in the Cubs' organization, but new president Theo Epstein ruled out Sandberg as a candidate for that team's managerial opening.

Sandberg said his interview with the Cardinals lasted a little more than two hours.

"It was cool that the Cardinals thought to put me on their list and wanted to talk to me, with my history as a rival player," Sandberg said. "They agreed that in some ways that I would know the St. Louis Cardinals franchise, history and tradition as much as anyone else.

"I lived it on the field against them for 16 seasons," he said.

The 48-year-old Oquendo has been the third base coach the last dozen years. He played his final 10 major league seasons with the Cardinals from 1986-95 when he was nicknamed the "Secret Weapon" in a nod to his versatility.

Chris Maloney has managed the Cardinals' Triple-A franchise in Memphis the last five years, Mike Matheny won three of his four Gold Gloves as a catcher for St. Louis from 2000-04 and now is an instructor in the organization, and White Sox coach Joe McEwing earned the nickname "Super Joe" as a versatile substitute with the Cardinals.

After Francona left the Red Sox, there were reports players drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. The Boston Globe reported the club was concerned he was "distracted," living in a hotel while separated from his wife and taking painkillers to deal with knee operations. Francona has said his personal life didn't affect his performance.

Getting called by the Cardinals was perhaps an indication that Francona remains a top tier candidate.

"I don't think I want to manage just to manage, but I was excited to talk to the Cardinals," Francona said. "I'm not desperate to manage, but I enjoy it.

Boston ended an 86-year championship drought in 2004, Francona's first season, when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the World Series. Francona also managed the Red Sox to a sweep of Colorado in the 2007 World Series.

Francona is the second-winningest manager in Red Sox history with a 744-552 record and 8-0 mark in the World Series.


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