Phillies' job filled, Leyland still looking for right deal

Updated: November 18, 2004, 12:52 AM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Jim Leyland still wants to manage again despite being turned down by the Philadelphia Phillies, but has little interest in any job that wouldn't allow him to return regularly to his Pittsburgh home.

Leyland was a late and unexpected applicant for the Phillies' job and appeared to be the fan favorite, but was passed over two weeks ago when general manager Ed Wade hired his own special assistant, former Indians manager Charlie Manuel.

"It was one of those too-good-to-be-true deals," Leyland said Tuesday. "Maybe I was being selfish on my part, but it was in my backyard and it would have been a nice situation for my family. I wanted the Philly job bad, but give Ed Wade credit -- he hired who he thought was the best man for the job and, if he doesn't do that, shame on him."

If he knew beforehand he wouldn't be hired, Leyland said, he wouldn't have interviewed, out of respect for Manuel. Wade has drawn media criticism for his choice, and it's likely that the Phillies' failure to hire Leyland will be brought up repeatedly if they don't win.

"I didn't want to put him under any extra pressure," Leyland said.

There are currently no major league managerial openings, Leyland doesn't expect any before the season starts and he isn't certain whether he would accept a job at midseason.

"I doubt that, but I can't say that I wouldn't," Leyland said. "It (the second half of a season) could be good for player evaluation."

Leyland was hired during the offseason before each of his three previous jobs: the Pirates (1986), Marlins (1997) and Rockies (1999). He was let out of contracts by the Pirates and Marlins and allowed to look elsewhere when both teams cut payroll to launch youth-based rebuilding efforts.

Leyland was chosen twice as the NL manager of the year while leading the Pirates to three consecutive NL East titles from 1990-92, then managed the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title a year after leaving Pittsburgh. He resigned after one season in Colorado in 1999, saying he shouldn't have taken the job and wanted to spend more time with his family.

Leyland left behind $4 million on his contract when he quit the Rockies, but has since made it clear he regrets his situation with the team -- though he couldn't promise he wouldn't leave another job before the expiration of his contract.

"I did a lousy job in Colorado," Leyland said earlier this month. "I was never treated better than I was there. It just wasn't there. I was burned out. It had nothing to do with the organization."

Leyland has said repeatedly since leaving Colorado that he wouldn't manage again, but with the window of opportunity probably closing forever within a few years for the 59-year-old Leyland, he's eager to return to the dugout.

"I've always missed the competition," he said.

He wouldn't rule out managing again in Pittsburgh, even though he cautioned that he would never campaign for any job that was filled. Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, a former Leyland player whom Leyland has often praised, is signed through 2005 with an option for 2006.

"I doubt very much if they (the Pirates) would want me again ... and I would never discuss it when Mac still had the job; I have too much respect for him and the position," Leyland said. "I want to manage again, but the one thing people don't understand is it's a fraternity because everyone (that manages) knows how tough a job it is. There are certain things you don't do, and one of them is (campaigning) for a job that isn't open."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press