"After that, whenever I was in a town where the Pirates or Expos were, I'd give Pete a call and say, 'I'd love to see you at some point.' We developed a relationship, stayed in touch during the offseason. It's very ironic that I would be hiring Pete as an interim manager here in my first go-around as a general manager."
Mackanin, 55, was formally introduced during a Tuesday press conference before the Reds opened a series vs. the Giants. He takes over from Jerry Narron, who was dismissed Sunday night.
"I'm going into it with my eyes wide open," Mackanin said. "This isn't a pleasant situation to get into. However, I feel I'd like to help the organization get on track. Somebody has got to get us through it. I'd like to think I can help. I'm going to try and do everything I can and use my experience to handle the team the way I know how to handle the team and hope it has an effect on them."
As an advance scout, Mackanin's job was to watch future Reds opponents. So he's seen little of the Reds in person, with the exception of Spring Training when he helped out Narron's staff in big league camp.
"I feel good having seen the rest of the league," Mackanin said. "When I did get a chance, I used the Internet a lot. During the day, I could pick up an archived game, and I try to stay on top of what we've been doing. I've seen quite a bit. I know the team pretty well. The last two springs, I've thrown [batting practice] for a month. It's not like I don't know these guys. I have a good idea of what they can and can't do. I've spoken to Jerry before series and other coaches at times, too, to keep apprised."
Mackanin was hired by Krivsky as a Reds advance scout in February 2006 after the Pirates decided not offer him the permanent manager's job. Instead, he got an offer to helm their Rookie League team in his hometown of Bradenton, Fla.
"It would have been a nice fit for me at the time because I lived so close," Mackanin said. "But I think I was a little too young to be put out to pasture. It would have appealed to me when I'm 65. I want to get my opportunity to manage. I would love to have the opportunity to start in the spring and see what I can do. I'm here to help the organization. I'll take what I can get. I'm going to take this as a positive experience. If we get this thing going, it's going to be a lot of fun. It's something that will be a challenge for me, but I'm up for the challenge."
With 39 years in the professional game, including nine as a big league player, Mackanin is the definition of a baseball lifer. His only previous Major League managerial experience came in a 26-game stint as the Pirates' interim skipper in 2005. Despite his experience as a coach and Minor League manager, Mackanin has never gotten the chance to interview for a big league skipper's job.
"I'd like to think if you read my resume, it would seem to be appealing," Mackanin said. "It would seem to me to warrant at least an interview or somebody to ask me what I thought about how to run a game or what to do. It hasn't happened."
The first difference in the Mackanin regime was noticed quickly. For the first time in a long time, the Reds took infield practice before taking regular batting practice. After BP, Mackanin held a closed-door meeting with his players.
During the press conference, Mackanin would not reveal what he planned to say to the players. But they should expect a field manager that by his own definition is "strict to a certain degree."
"To me, the Major League level is the cathedral of baseball," Mackanin said. "You have to show respect to the game and the uniform by the way you do things. If you don't show respect, then I'd like to correct that. I won't accept lack of hustle. I won't accept sloppy play or disrespect to any aspect of that, whether it's the uniform or myself as manager and the coaches."
Mackanin is taking over a team that was a Major League-worst 31-51 entering Tuesday. He's trying to get acquainted with his new job but realized he needed to effect change quickly.
"I'd sit in stands with the other scouts and they'd mention things that aren't necessarily that laudatory about the Reds," Mackanin said. "They'll give me their opinion on things and I'd always tell them, 'I don't see us. I see the other teams.' There's no secret when you look at the record. That's the bottom line. The record speaks for itself. Personally, I think we've got plenty of good players and our record stinks. We have to improve on that record."
Krivsky said Mackanin would be a candidate for the permanent manager's job. Mackanin knows he's not a household name for a Reds fan base that's clamoring for a big name like Joe Girardi or Bob Brenly to take over. He believed he could handle the challenge but publicly wasn't lobbying for any support.
"I'm not going to project and tell you my goal is to get this job," Mackanin said. "None of that is important. I'm going to win today. After today, I'm going to put it behind us and win tomorrow. That's the only thing I can do."