MIAMI -- Bobby Valentine still may be coming to the Florida Marlins, though just not as quickly as first envisioned.
A person familiar with the Marlins' managerial search said Friday that a scheduled interview with Valentine has been put on hold, yet he remains a top candidate for the job. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Marlins had not authorized any public comment.
|Did talks stall so Bobby Valentine can manage vs. the Mets, his former team, in P.R.? (AP)|
Making an appearance in the Marlins' clubhouse after the game, team owner Jeffrey Loria said the process will "take as long as it takes."
"You know me well enough. When I have something, I will tell you," Loria said, adding that he did not expect Valentine to be in South Florida on Saturday, either.
A reason for the slowdown could be because the Marlins play a three-game series in Puerto Rico starting Monday. Interim manager Edwin Rodriguez is a native of Puerto Rico -- his home is five minutes from the ballpark in San Juan -- and there is sentiment within the organization to allow him to manage that series against the Mets, Valentine's most recent major-league team.
"That would be outstanding," Rodriguez said.
The Marlins are looking to replace Fredi Gonzalez, the franchise's all-time victory leader who was fired Wednesday.
Former Marlins' third-base and outfield coach Bo Porter is another candidate. Porter, now a coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks, interviewed on Friday before his current club played the Tampa Bay Rays. The Marlins offered Porter a contract to stay in his role with the team after the 2009 season, which he declined.
"He did make contact with them and we're going to leave it at that," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously we respect their process. There's only 30 of these jobs. ... We all hope it's going to be quickly, especially when it's in season. It's a very unique situation when it's in season like this."
Rodriguez had his home -- albeit, perhaps, a temporary home -- debut Friday when the Marlins hosted the San Diego Padres. He said he's trying to focus on winning games, not an audition for the permanent managerial job.
"All I can control is the present time," Rodriguez said. "After that, who knows?"
Rodriguez said he has had a slew of talks with Marlins officials, but no formal interview and wondered if one would be necessary.
"They know me," said Rodriguez, who expects that his job managing Florida's Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans will still be waiting for him if he is not named the Marlins' permanent skipper. "I've been here for seven years. We've been talking for three days about the team. They know me and know what I think."
Unknown, however, is what the Marlins think at this point. A team spokesman said briefings on the managerial search would not be made until the club is ready to announce a hiring.
"At the end of the day, whether I'm the manager or Fredi is the manager or Bobby Valentine or the skipper now, it doesn't matter," said Marlins reliever Scott Strickland, who played for Valentine with the '02 Mets. "We still have to get 27 outs. You still have to do your job every day."
Loria expected his team to be a playoff contender this season, but Florida has been around .500 for much of the first half. The Marlins entered Friday night with a 35-37 record, 6½ games out of first in the NL East.
Currently an ESPN analyst, Valentine withdrew as a candidate for the managerial job with the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, the same day Gonzalez was fired.
Valentine has been to the postseason in the majors twice, leading the New York Mets to the World Series in 2000, where they lost to the Yankees.
He has a long relationship with Loria, having managed the Texas Rangers when Loria owned that franchise's Triple-A affiliate. Valentine has a record in the majors of 1,117-1,072, and ended a six-year run as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Pacific League in 2009.
"We hear speculation, this guy, that guy. It's almost like trade rumors," Marlins outfielder Cody Ross said. "You take it all with a grain of salt. Whoever they put in there can hopefully get us going and get us to be one of those final eight teams."
Rodriguez has never met Valentine, but believes him to be a worthy candidate.
"Very knowledgeable," Rodriguez said. "We all know how much baseball's in his mind. He's been around. He's a winner. He knows how to win."