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Candidate Collins Moves Up

Baseball: Former Houston boss jumps ahead of Sparky Anderson as favorite for Angels' manager job.

November 02, 1996|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Terry Collins, fired as Houston Astros manager in October, is believed to be the leading candidate to become the next Angel manager, supplanting Sparky Anderson as the favorite for the job.

Collins returned to Anaheim Friday for his third interview with Angel front-office officials, discussing a variety of topics ranging from potential coaching staff members to the handling of young players to possible changes he would implement on the team.

Collins, 47, met with General Manager Bill Bavasi, assistant GM Tim Mead and player development director Ken Forsch, but Angel President Tony Tavares did not sit in on the interview. Collins met with Tavares last week.

"I thought things went great," Collins said before returning to Houston Friday afternoon. "I've done everything I can do to convince them I'm the guy who can get it done. Now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

The Angels are expected to make their decision next week. There has been widespread speculation and some television reports that Anderson, the former Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tiger manager, would get the job, but Anderson said he has not been in contact with the Angels for four or five days.

"My daughter called the other day and said, 'Why am I always the last to know?' " Anderson, 62, said. "And I've had friends call to congratulate me . . . I tell them they know something I don't."

Tavares, who heads Disney Sports Enterprises, is believed to be a strong proponent of Anderson for obvious reasons: He's third on baseball's all-time list with 2,194 career victories, he managed the Reds and Tigers to World Series championships, he has great public relations skills and works well with the media.

An added benefit for the Angels: Anderson would bring Marcel Lachemann, who resigned as manager last August but remains a favorite of Bavasi, back as the team's pitching coach and retain popular batting instructor Rod Carew.

Lachemann has an offer from the Chicago Cubs to be their pitching coach but is waiting to see what happens in Anaheim before making a decision. Carew, who said he would work for Anderson but isn't sure how he'd fit in with the other finalists, has interviewed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I want to stay here," Carew said, "but I'm not going to wait for someone to come in and hire someone else and be out of a job. I have to look out for me and my family."

A potential drawback to Anderson: It could take a salary in the $1-million range to draw him out of retirement. Collins wouldn't cost half that much, and some believe the Angels, despite their willingness to break the bank for Jim Leyland, might want to spend the extra money on players.

Collins, the Astro manager for three years, said if he got the Angel job he would consider current Angel coaches for his staff, but he was not told by Angel officials that he would have to hire specific coaches.

"That was a big subject today," Collins said of potential coaches. "We also talked a lot about what needs to be done to improve the team. But this team already has a real good chance of being successful. That's why it's such a good job."

Collins, who was replaced by former broadcaster Larry Dierker in Houston, guided the Astros to three second-place finishes, with a 66-49 record in strike-shortened 1994, a 76-68 record in 1995, and an 82-80 mark in 1996.

The Astros led the St. Louis Cardinals by 2 1/2 games going into September but underachieved in the final month, losing 17 of their final 25 games to finish six games back, and that cost Collins his job.

While Anderson is more of a laid-back, let-the-players-play type of manager, Collins is more hands-on, more fiery, and more emotional. Some believe an Angel team lacking in leadership needs a more vocal manager.

A few players reportedly griped about Collins' managing style to Houston General Manager Gerry Hunsicker, and Collins also had to deal with player resentment over the strike of 1994-95, when some Astros believed Collins took too much of a pro-management stance in the labor dispute.

At a banquet honoring replacement players, Collins said "the only thing that kept the Houston Astros from winning the pennant was the end of the strike."

Collins, who spent 5 1/2 years in the Dodger farm system, managing triple-A Albuquerque from mid-1983 to 1988, said the remark has come up in interviews with the Angels, and he believes team officials were satisfied with his explanation.

"Everyone was put in the same situation, and it wasn't much fun for everyone," Collins said of replacement ball. "We were all told [by ownership] what we had to do, so we did what we had to do. It was an ugly time, and I've tried to forget about it, move on."

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