Zduriencik meeting with A’s bench coach Chip Hale

Oakland Athletics Photo DayJack Zduriencik has spent the past three weeks putting together his list of managerial candidates to replace Eric Wedge and now things will begin heating up, with A’s bench coach Chip Hale among the first to meet with the Mariners general manager.

Zduriencik is in Arizona for the remainder of this week and was scheduled to meet with Hale on Wednesday, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. Hale, 48, has worked as Bob Melvin’s top assistant the past two years in Oakland and lives in Tucson, Ariz.

Zduriencik will be having initial talks with a number of people in Phoenix this week, some serious candidates and some just for background purposes as the hiring process heats up. Zduriencik is expected to talk to some internal candidates in the Mariners organization as well.

Hale was an infielder with the Twins and Dodgers from 1989-97 before getting into coaching. He spent six seasons as a Minor League manager in the D-backs organization and earned Pioneer League and Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year awards before joining Bob Melvin’s staff as the third base coach and infield coach in Arizona from 2007-09.

He then spent two years as the Mets third base coach in 2010-11 before rejoining Melvin’s staff in Oakland the past two years.

Hale is regarded in baseball circles as one of the up-and-coming managerial prospects in the game as a young, energetic candidate who is detail-oriented and good with the media. He’s obviously familiar with the American League West from his time with the A’s and has worked with some very successful teams, including the National League West champion D-backs in 2007 and the AL West champion A’s the past two years.

Hale interviewed with the Mariners in 2008 when they hired Don Wakamatsu and has also been a contender for several other openings in recent years.

The Mariners are expected to extend their hiring process into early November, after the conclusion of the World Series. Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo is among a lengthy list of candidates that has been mentioned, but he has made it known he doesn’t want to talk with any suitors until his team is done playing.

Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Tigers hitting coach and former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, former White Sox and Marlins bench coach Joey Cora and current Mariners front-office member Ted Simmons are among the potential candidates, though other names likely will emerge as the process plays out.

There are currently four Major League teams looking for new managers – the Cubs, Nationals, Tigers and Mariners — with the Reds having just promoted pitching coach Bryan Price to replace Dusty Baker.

It’ll be interesting to see what direction the Mariners go. While many fans clamor for familiar names like Baker, the current trend could lean more toward giving lesser-known candidates a chance, given Mike Matheny and John Farrell have led the Cardinals and Red Sox into this year’s World Series. MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince had a good take on that earlier this week in looking at all the openings around baseball.

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