BY: Richard W. Humphrey

The search for Ron Washington’s replacement is the Rangers’ number one priority at this point. They interviewed internal candidates Steve Buechele, who managed the Rangers’ AAA team at Round Rock last summer, and pitching coach Mike Maddux last week. This week, they plan to interview interim manager Tim Bogar and five outside candidates. The candidates from other organizations have been identified as Jeff Bannister, the Pirates bench coach this past season, Red Sox bench coach Tory Lovullo, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash and Alex Cora who manages Caguas in the Puerto Rico Winter League.

Similar to Jon Daniels’ first managerial search in 2006 after he fired Buck Showalter, none of the candidates have previously been a Major League manager,

Cash is the least experienced of the group, having finished his playing career just three seasons ago. All of the other outside candidates have some managerial experience in the minor leagues. Lovullo has been considered in recent years for the managerial openings with the Dodgers and Cubs. He has been John Farrell’s bench coach for four years at both Toronto and Boston. Lovullo and McEwing are thought to be under consideration for the vacant managerial position at Minnesota, where St. Paul native Paul Molitor is thought to be the favorite.

Bogar is still considered the leading candidate after leading the Rangers to a 14-8 record after Washington resigned, including winning 13 of the final 16 games. In another development, the Arizona Diamondbacks asked for and were granted permission to interview Bogar for their managerial opening. Bogar is under contract with the Rangers for one more year, which precipitated the need to request permission from the Rangers.

Texas also announced a host of roster moves on Monday. Outfielder Engel Beltre, right-hander Wilmer Font, left-hander Pedro Figuroa, and infielder Guilder Rodriguez cleared waivers and the Rangers have assigned them outright to AAA Round Rock. Also first baseman/catcher J. P. Arencibia and first and third basman Kevin Kouzmanoff cleared waivers. Since both of these players have previously cleared waivers and been outrighted to the minors, they have the option to take free agency rather than accept assignment to Round Rock.

Left-handed reliever Joseph Ortiz was also waived, but he was claimed by the Cubs. Ortiz broke a leg in an automobile accident last winter, and was assigned to AA Frisco when he was physically able to play. However, he wasn’t very effective for the Rough Riders and had a questionable attitude, such that he was not called up to the Rangers in September when the Major League rosters expanded.

The moves bring the Rangers’ 40-man roster down to 37 according Ranger media relations director John Blake. There will definitely be more cuts from those 37, as players such as Yu Darvish have not been reinstated to the 40-man roster from the 60-day disable list as yet. On top of that, at least two top prospects will be added to the 40-man roster – catcher Jorge Alfaro and starting pitcher Luke Jackson. If they are not, they would be subject to the Rule 5 draft in December.

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