Waiting game begins for Mackanin

Waiting game begins for Mackanin

CINCINNATI -- After he performed his job as Reds interim manager for 80 games this season, all Pete Mackanin can do now is play the waiting game.

The length of the wait until a permanent manager is named is up to general manager Wayne Krivsky and owner/CEO Bob Castellini.

"I know the score. I really don't have an inkling what's going to happen either way," Mackanin said before Sunday's season finale vs. the Cubs. "I've wondered about it from time to time, but I didn't let it consume me. I have confidence in my ability. The rest is up to the powers that be. I'm happy for the experience. There are only 30 of these jobs in the world."

Cecil Cooper (Astros), John McLaren (Mariners) and Dave Trembley (Orioles) had their interim manager tags removed before season's end and already know they will return in 2008. The Reds plan to take their search into the offseason.

"Pete is a candidate. He's definitely a candidate," Krivsky said. "People ask me about timetables and there isn't one. I'd rather get something done sooner than later. The sooner we know, it takes the uncertainty out of people's minds that are here."

Mackanin was the Reds' Major League advanced scout when Krivsky named him to the interim manager on July 1. After the Reds were 31-51 under the ousted Jerry Narron, Mackanin posted a 41-39 record.

The outcome is skewed, as the team lost seven of its last eight games in the final week to finish in fifth place at 72-90 while most of the regulars, including Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, were injured.

Don't expect the rough last week to play a large part in the final evaluation in Mackanin's future. What will be remembered most is that the Reds stabilized after they seemed destined to lose over 100 games.

Mackanin's personality helped lighten the clubhouse mood and his willingness to take risks in games had players responding on the field. Partially by choice, but also out of necessity, some role players were elevated to larger roles and performed well. Norris Hopper and Jeff Keppinger made names for themselves by hitting and getting on base every day. Brandon Phillips' production increased when he was moved into the cleanup spot regularly. Rule 5 Draft reliever Jared Burton was given a crack at the eighth-inning job and eliminated a huge team weakness from the first half.

"I got to know the guys pretty well," Mackanin said. "I like the chemistry in the clubhouse. I like the guys and hopefully they liked me. They seemed to respond and have a little fun. It's been a great experience."

Before Mackanin took over, the Reds had dropped six straight series and 16 of 18 series overall. After he joined the club, it won or split 13 of the next 23 series and swept five.

"From my standpoint, you can't ask for anything more than he's given us," Krivsky said. "We've had a lot of good moments the second part of the year and he was in charge.

"Pete hasn't done anything to eliminate himself or take himself out of consideration. He's done a great job."

Fair or not, recent history might be Mackanin's biggest obstacle. The last two Reds managers, Dave Miley and Narron, were interim skippers that didn't sustain results after getting the permanent position. Even though Mackanin shouldn't be judged by other manager's records, there is a fan perception that a "big name" is needed for the job after seven straight losing seasons.

There are already several names out there. Joe Girardi, Bob Brenly, Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter and Ken Macha are all available. If Tony LaRussa leaves the Cardinals, speculation has the Reds interested because Castellini was a once a minority shareholder in St. Louis.

If Mackanin doesn't get the job, it certainly won't be his first disappointment. As interim manager for the Pirates over 26 games in 2005, he was never considered to stay with the organization, and joined the Reds as a scout in 2006. The Reds' braintrust could still retain him, but in a different capacity -- either coaching or scouting. Or he could look to join another team.

"I'm 56. I hopefully have another 10 years to work, or longer," Mackanin said. "Sure, I'd like to manage in the big leagues. If that doesn't happen, it's not going to devastate me. I'm a baseball lifer. I've been in it for 39 years. Next year will be 40. As I've done my whole career, I've gone year to year looking for a job, whether it's on the field or in a scouting role. I'm not going to look into umpiring. Everybody hates umpires. I want people to like me."

As he awaits word, Mackanin will spend a few weeks at home in Bradenton, Fla., before taking his wife, Nancy, on a European vacation.

"I'm comfortable in my ability as a manager," Mackanin said. "Whether I'm the guy or not, or whether somebody is interested or not, it's out of my hands. I'm happy for the opportunity. Wayne could have brought somebody else in. I'm glad it was me."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.