Seattle narrows managerial search

The Seattle Mariners are down to four candidates for their managerial opening and still might consider a fifth.

The four finalists are Lloyd McClendon, Chip Hale, Joey Cora and Tim Wallach. The Mariners are still debating whether to conduct another interview with Rick Renteria, who recently underwent hip surgery. They also have yet to rule out another candidate, Dave Valle.

General manager Jack Zduriencik already has interviewed Renteria, the Padres’ bench coach, at his home in Temecula, Calif. A second interview would be conducted by the Mariners’ six-man search committee, and the entire group would need to travel to Southern California to meet with Renteria, who also is high on the Cubs’ list.

A look at the four finalists:

• McClendon: The Tigers’ hitting coach possesses two advantages over the other candidates. He has a previous relationship with Zduriencik, having played for the Pirates while the GM was the team’s scouting director from 1991-93. He also is the only one of the four with previous managing experience, having managed the Pirates from 2001-05.

Though many in baseball would like to see McClendon get a second chance at managing, the Tigers snubbed him for Brad Ausmus when they replaced Jim Leyland. Ausmus had no previous managing or coaching experience at the professional level.

• Cora: He played for the Mariners from 1995-98 and served as Ozzie Guillen’s bench coach with both the White Sox and Marlins.

The Mariners’ past two managers, Don Wakamatsu and Eric Wedge, were “outsiders” who ultimately proved poor fits. The team’s top executives, Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong, already are familiar with Cora from his playing days.

• Hale: The Mariners interviewed him before hiring Wakamatsu for the 2009 season, and club officials are impressed by his growth since then.

Hale, the Athletics’ bench coach, also comes strongly recommended by A’s manager Bob Melvin, who managed the Mariners in 2003 and ’04 and remains well-regarded by the club.

• Wallach: The Dodgers’ third-base coach is the least familiar of the four to the Mariners, but he was a successful manager at Triple-A for the Dodgers and could become the team’s bench coach if he does not land a managing job.

The Tigers also interviewed Wallach before hiring Ausmus.