It didn't take long for Joe Girardi to go from deposed manager of the Florida Marlins to prime-time candidate for the Cubs' vacancy.
Shortly after Girardi was told he was being fired one year into his three-year contract with Florida, the Cubs contacted him as the Marlins were introducing his replacement, Atlanta coach Fredi Gonzalez.
Girardi and Lou Piniella are considered the top two names on general manager Jim Hendry's short list of candidates.
"Joe obviously is a candidate," Hendry said Tuesday night, declining to comment further.
Hendry didn't give a timetable for an interview but it may take a couple of days at least.
"I've had a couple of discussions with teams," said Steve Mandell, Girardi's agent. "Joe is taking the day off to talk with his family. He's just kind of relaxing now. Things obviously will start happening in the next few days. We'll see what happens."
Like Dusty Baker's ending with the Cubs, Girardi's demise in Florida had been rumored for weeks. Asked about the Cubs' opening during his farewell news conference in Miami, Girardi avoided the subject.
"I haven't had time to think about it," he said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense to think about another job as long as you still have a job. Now I have to readjust and I will talk to [my wife] Kim
about what is best for us as a family. When I took this job, I didn't have a third [child]."
Meanwhile, sources said Baker will not be a candidate for the vacant San Francisco position, but Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly will interview with the Giants soon.
The importance of making the right managerial decision is something Cubs management is not attempting to downplay.
After all that has happened during a season Tribune Co. CEO and President Dennis FitzSimons called "dismal," culminating with the forced resignation of President Andy MacPhail and the decision to let Baker go, the Cubs realize they can't get it wrong.
Interim club President John McDonough stressed that Hendry will be the one making the call.
"In Jim Hendry you have the right guy," he said. "And with the recent change in Dusty, this is a critical decision, finding the right guy."
Hendry and McDonough both know Girardi from his days as a Cubs player and are known to have good relationships with him. Girardi is a former Cubs captain who gave an emotional speech at Wrigley Field when the Cubs returned to play after the postponement of games from the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, and again in 2002 when a game against St. Louis was canceled because of the death of Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile.
McDonough declined to address specifics of the managerial search, but he said he was looking for someone who "gets" the Cubs.
"I think you have to bring in a winner who respects this franchise, this brand, the fans, the ballpark and everything that is the Chicago Cubs," McDonough said. "Someone who 'gets it.' But it has to be somebody who's a winner, somebody whose only mission, whose only goal is to win the World Series. That's a strong statement to make."
Girardi, who was born in Peoria, made his Cubs debut during the surprising season of 1989, when manager Don Zimmer and a roster full of overachievers captured the National League East.
Zimmer, one of Girardi's early influences in the game, called his former catcher after the firing on Tuesday and said, "Welcome to the club, pal."
"I always said this about Joe Girardi: He would make a good engineer, a good coach or a good manager," Zimmer said. "He would be good at anything he wanted to do, and I still feel that way today."
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