The St. Louis Cardinals completed their first, and possibly only round of interviews to fill the coaching void following Tony La Russa’s retirement.
Ryne Sandberg, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer and Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo were interviewed at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Sandberg and Oquendo are the final two candidates to be interviewed by general manager John Mozeliak and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.
According to Mozeliak, the interview process has been finalized, but there’s a possibility for follow up interviews with the vying six candidates, which include formal Cardinal Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny, former Boston Red Sox manager and two-time World Series champion Terry Francona, Cardinals Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, former Cardinal Joe McEwing along with Sandberg and Oquendo.
The Cardinals received permission from the Philadelphia Phillies to interview Sandberg, who played for the Cardinals arch rival, the Chicago Cubs. Sandberg started his managerial career after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. He managed for the past five seasons in the minor leagues with the Cubs and Phillies and was ruled out as a potential candidate to fill the void in Chicago, according to Cubs president Theo Epstein.
Sandberg met with Mozeliak and DeWitt Jr. for over two hours Wednesday morning, and according to the Associated Press, Sandberg said, “It was a comfortable conversation. From my standpoint, it went about as well as it could have gone.”
Oquendo’s interview was held in the afternoon and lasted around 2 1/2 hours.
When asked about his interview, Oquendo said, “I was encouraged,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I felt like it went pretty smooth. They asked a lot of questions, and it was fun to sit down and talk about it.”
Oquendo has been the Cardinals’ third base coach for the last 12 seasons, and is highly coveted by the organization. According to the Post-Dispatch, Oquendo said he would like to stay on in that capacity, if the opportunity presented itself.
Oquendo, according to the Post-Dispatch, had hoped to have a managing job before now, but he said: “Sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way. You have to be in the right place at the right time. If it’s not going to be me, I’m not going to be saying, ‘Why not?’ If it happens, it happens.”
The Cardinals are expected to make a coaching decision next week.