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Finding Manager Is Port’s Next Priority

Times Staff Writer

Having spent the first week of his off-season rectifying the team’s No. 2 catcher situation--Lance Parrish was signed and Butch Wynegar released--Angel General Manager Mike Port said Monday he plans to step up the search for a new manager this week.

“We had some loose ends to tie up last week and now we’ll probably be moving things along in the managerial direction this week,” Port said. “Whether that means scheduling firsthand interviews or what have you, at least we can say that it’s now a priority.”

Port has already had phone conversations with several prospective candidates, among them fired Chicago White Sox manager Jim Fregosi, and spent the weekend compiling a list of candidates. Believed to be on that list: Fregosi, Joe Torre, former manager of the Atlanta Braves; Hal Lanier, recently fired manager of the Houston Astros, and Gene Mauch, the Angel manager who abruptly resigned last March, saying he was tired.

“I had a few calls from some people who are interested, who have experience, and who want to put their names in the hat,” Port said. “I spoke to Jimmy Saturday and he told me, ‘Please keep me in mind.’ ”

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Fregosi, who managed the Angels to their first division championship in 1979, has maintained a good relationship with Angel owner Gene Autry and is expected to be inducted into the Angel Hall of Fame next year. He was rumored to be a contender for the Angels’ job weeks before his dismissal by the White Sox.

Port also said he has spoken with Mauch. According to a published report, Mauch has confided in friends that he wants to manage again, but Port said the Angels’ vacancy wasn’t discussed in his conversation with Mauch.

“I talked to Gene the other day, but I don’t want to be presumptuous, because we haven’t discussed the manager’s position,” Port said. “Since last spring, my visits with Gene have remained consistent. We just get together to talk baseball.”

After going through 3 managers in 8 months--Mauch, Cookie Rojas and interim replacement Moose Stubing--the Angels are seeking stability in the position, which would figure to make the 63-year-old Mauch an outside candidate. Mauch has already resigned twice in the last 6 years.

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But, at the same time, Port said, “I can’t tell you he’s not a candidate. Anything being possible, yes, he’s as much a candidate as anyone else.”


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