Sources: Jays want seasoned skipper

Only three times in their 36-year history have the Toronto Blue Jays hired managers with previous major league experience.

That may be about to change.

The Blue Jays are leaning toward hiring a manager who already has done the job, according to major league sources.

Several of their reported candidates — notably, Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. — remain secondary considerations, at least for the moment.

While Alomar is viewed by many in baseball as the favorite for the job, the Blue Jays have yet to even ask the Indians for permission to speak with him, sources say.

Alomar and three other candidates — Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Baltimore Orioles third base coach Demarlo Hale and Boston Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield — lack significant major league managing experience (Alomar managed the Indians for the final six games last season).

The Blue Jays still could end up picking a manager from that group, sources say, but only if they are unimpressed by the more seasoned options.

Those options would include Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu, who previously managed the Seattle Mariners, former Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy and former Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta, along with Reds Double-A manager Jim Riggleman, who previously managed four major league clubs.

Wakamatsu is the only one of that group who has been identified as a candidate in media reports. Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos prefers to operate quietly, and rarely shows his hand publicly.

Bobby Cox (1982 to ’85), Jim Fregosi (1999-2000) and Cito Gaston (2009-10) are the only managers in Jays history who had previous major league experience.

The Jays hired Fregosi only after abruptly dismissing Tim Johnson, who had lied about fighting in Vietnam, in the spring of ’99. They brought back Gaston after originally hiring him as a first-timer in 1989.

All of the other Jays managers since 2001 — Buck Martinez, Carlos Tosca, John Gibbons and John Farrell — lacked major league experience.