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Brewers’ hitting coach named Chicago Cub’s new manager

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Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 18, 2011
— Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin realizes his team’s fans think hitting coach Dale Sveum just crossed over to the enemy, but he was happy to hear that Sveum was named the new manager of the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

“I’m happy for Dale,” said Melvin. “I think he’s ready to manage. It’s a club he’s familiar with. A division and league he’s familiar with. Spring training he’s familiar with. So, a lot of familiarities for him.


“Sometimes guys get put in the right situations; sometimes they don’t. It’s a credit to our organization that we have people teams want.”


The Cubs will hold a news conference this morning at Wrigley Field to introduce Sveum. He received a three-year deal plus a club option for 2015.


Sveum, who turns 48 next week, also was courted by the Boston Red Sox for their managerial opening. But when the Red Sox were not prepared yet to make their move, the Cubs stepped into the breach and made their offer to Sveum.


Sveum becomes the third manager this season to be hired with no previous experience, other than the final 12 games of the 2008 season as the Brewers’ interim manager after Ned Yost was fired. The Chicago White Sox hired Robin Ventura, and the St. Louis Cardinals tabbed Mike Matheny.


The Brewers chose not to give Sveum their full-time job after the 2008 season, opting instead to hire Ken Macha. At the time, Melvin said he thought Sveum was too close to the players to take over as manager and wanted someone from outside the organization.


Sveum was not considered as a replacement for Macha when he was dismissed after two seasons. Instead, the Brewers hired Los Angeles Angels coach Ron Roenicke, who piloted them to a franchise-record 96 victories and the NL Central crown.


Before serving six seasons on the Brewers’ staff in different roles, Sveum previously coached in Boston when Theo Epstein was general manager there. Epstein was hired this off-season by the Cubs to be their president and he named former Red Sox assistant Jed Hoyer as his general manager.


Epstein chose not to retain manager Mike Quade and conducted a search that was narrowed to four finalists, including Sveum and Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux, who previously held that role in Milwaukee.


Sveum met a second time Wednesday with Chicago’s management group at the Hotel Intercontinental and was made a preliminary offer that night. The details were worked out Thursday morning.


After his initial interview in Chicago, Sveum met with reporters there and said his experience as interim manager for the Brewers in ’08 whetted his appetite for a longer shot in that job.


“I think we all want to do things, but until you get thrown in the fire, you don’t know if it’s the right thing for you, even if it’s something you want to do,” said Sveum, who played for the Brewers from 1986-’91.


“Once I got to manage that year, those 12 games and the four games in the playoffs, it was somewhere where I felt right at home and very comfortable doing.”


Of being passed over by the Brewers, Sveum said, “I moved on. I knew it would happen someday that I would get an opportunity. I never lost hope by no means.”


Melvin said Brewers minor-league hitting coordinator Sandy Guerrero would be a candidate to replace Sveum but said he’d talk to Roenicke to see whether he has a preference otherwise.


“He may have some names he wants,” said Melvin. “Sandy is a very qualified guy. He has a big role in our organization with our minor-league guys, too. He’s familiar with a lot of our hitters.”


On another topic, Melvin said he wants to sit down with former Brewers infielder Craig Counsell soon to see what he has on his mind as far as a possible non-playing position at some point with the club.



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