Alomar focused on managerial task at hand
Interim skipper concentrating only on the Indians' final six contests
CLEVELAND -- Six games. That is all Sandy Alomar Jr. has been promised and that is all the Indians interim manager is focused on right now. There is excitement and surely hope for earning the permanent role, but there are only six games.
The rest -- questions about what happened this season, if this is Alomar's dream job, how he will try to change things -- can wait. As he sat inside an interview room at Progressive Field on Friday, one day after Manny Acta was dismissed as manager, Alomar tried to soak in this bittersweet moment in his career.
"It's not easy to replace a guy like him, especially with the way he treated me," Alomar said. "Moving forward, I'm trying to stay focused on these six games. I already addressed the players about these six games.
"Let's go out there and play ball, be relaxed and just take pride in the game."
It is foolish to think that six games will determine whether Cleveland hands the keys to the manager's office to Alomar for next season and beyond. This is not a tryout. Alomar's resume, which includes 20 seasons in the big leagues and five years as a coach, has been a three-decade audition.
Entering Friday's series opener with the Royals, Alomar did not have any managing experience. Then again, neither did White Sox manager Robin Ventura or Cardinals manager Mike Matheny when they were hired last offseason. Both of those clubs are in the midst of a postseason push behind their rookie skippers.
Alomar believes their success will help others facing similar circumstances.
"Definitely," Alomar said. "I feel like that situation opened doors for other guys. I feel like there are going to be many general managers in many front offices that are going to probably go that direction, because they feel that if a guy has winning experience in baseball, surrounded by the right people, they might have a good opportunity."
That is why the Blue Jays interviewed Alomar two offseasons ago for their managerial role. It is why the Red Sox and Cubs also brought Alomar in for interviews last winter. Cleveland appears to have a highly-sought commodity in Alomar, and now general manager Chris Antonetti is strongly considering him as Acta's full-time replacement.
"Sandy, from the time he's been a player, has been an exceptional leader," Antonetti said. "He's very well respected among the players in the clubhouse, both his teammates in the past and the players that he's worked with as a coach.
"Now he'll have an opportunity over the next six games to establish a little bit as a manager."
That is Alomar's goal.
"I feel good about it," Alomar said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have accepted it. I feel like I understand the game very well. ... I feel like I've coached enough."
The Indians will, however, consider other candidates. Antonetti confirmed on Friday that former manager Terry Francona -- currently an analyst for ESPN, and once a member of Cleveland's front office -- will be brought in for an interview. Reached by MLB.com, Francona said he was excited and interested.
"I wouldn't come in and interview if I wasn't," Francona said. "They have some things to get in order. I know Sandy Alomar is also a candidate and I'm sure they'll be doing their homework. I'll let [Antonetti] do his business and get back to me when it's appropriate."
First, there is the matter of the next six games.
Heading into Friday's action, the Indians were 65-91, including a Major League-worst 15-42 since July 26, and tied with the Twins for the worst mark in the American League. The team's rapid descent from contention to calamity contributed to Acta's removal, and Alomar's promotion from bench coach to manager.
In August, Cleveland's pitching problems led to the dismissal of pitching coach Scott Radinsky.
Around the clubhouse, players could not help but feel responsible.
"If I was pitching well early on, Scott Radinsky would probably still be here," Indians starter Justin Masterson said. "And if I was pitching well later on, Manny would probably still be here. Coaches coach and players play. It's unfortunate that when you're in that leadership aspect that you'll have to sometimes take the fall for the team."
It was Acta who brought Alomar back to Cleveland three seasons ago to be a part of his coaching staff. Alomar, who spent parts of 11 seasons as an All-Star catcher for the Indians, returned as a first-base coach before being named bench coach for this season.
Alomar is grateful for everything Acta did for him.
"It was a very difficult time for us [on Thursday]," Alomar said. "For the staff and myself. Manny played a role in bringing me here back to Cleveland and I have a great deal of respect for him."
Cleveland's players also have a great deal of respect for Alomar.
"I think Sandy's resume kind of speaks for itself," pitcher Josh Tomlin said. "The kind of player he was and leader he was, I think he'll bring that leadership to the ballclub, I really do. You never know until he's in that seat and has to make all the calls himself, but I can't think of a better guy to come in and try to finish off the season, and get a look for next year."
Alomar credited former Indians manager Mike Hargrove for pushing him to be a leader during his days as a player.
Alomar took pride in assuming that role.
"I always tried to put myself last," he said. "If you want to lead, you can't put yourself first."
And you can't afford to look too far ahead.
"I've got to focus on these six games," he said.