Mystery Candidate Drawing Praise

Giants bench coach Ron Wotus was interviewed Thursday to be the Dodgers' manager, probably making Los Angeles fans wonder, "Who the heck is he?" But to the many who know him, they are wondering only why did it take so long? Dodgers Director of Public Relations Josh Rawitch said there would be no announcement about the interviews at least until their first round is completed this weekend.

"I think it's way overdue that his name has surfaced,'' said Cincinnati Reds shortstop Rich Aurilia, who played for the Giants in 1995-2003 and under Wotus in the minors. "His knowledge of the game is second to none.'

"It's strange that people don't bring him up. He's had nothing but success at every level, and he's learned the game from some great people. He's not a big name, but some managers without big names have had some success lately -- look at what Ken Macha did with the A's.''

He has operated under managers Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou, two men with a combined four manager of the year awards.

Giants G.M. Brian Sabean said he realized that some teams prefer to have a known quantity but that Wotus is probably the most qualified candidate among potential first-time managers.

Asked if he was surprised Wotus' name doesn't come up more often, Sabean said: "I'm perplexed. Maybe it has something to do with our low profile in how we conduct ourselves as an organization. We don't go around beating our chests. But all you have to do is look at Ron's résumé.''

Wotus motivates with an easy grace. His understated style will fall short if the Dodgers are in search of the next Tommy Lasorda.

Wotus, 44, was the third candidate to interview from a five-man list. He followed Jerry Royster and Alan Trammell. Terry Collins got his turn Friday, with Torey Lovullo scheduled for today.

While Wotus played eight seasons in the big leagues, he hasn't been a manager; Collins, Royster and Trammell have. It's especially tough on coaches who lack an All-Star playing career; Wotus played only 32 big league games.

However, Dodgers General Manager Paul DePodesta said such experience is a plus, but not a requirement, for filling his vacancy.

Wotus does have sparkling credentials. He has spent 15 years in Giants organization, including the last seven on their Major League staff. He was a manager in farm system for 7 years (1991-97), and was twice named Manager of Year, while posting overall 555-411 record (.575) in minors. His teams finished above .500 mark and made playoffs in 6 of 7 years as skipper.

He has served as Giants bench coach and infield instructor and during that time San Francisco has established new franchise records for fielding pct. and fewest errors in season twice (2000 and 2003) and has turned 980 double plays during his tenure tutoring infield, third-most among NL clubs over 6-year span

In 1998 he joined Dusty Baker's staff as third base coach. Before that he served as manager for Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Phoenix, leading Firebirds to back-to-back Pacific Coast League playoff appearances with 2 Southern Division championships.

He had been named 1997 PCL Manager of Year after piloting Firebirds to best record in all of Triple-A baseball with 88-55 mark. That team finished season by winning 41 of its final 51 games.

He also managed the Giants AA franchise at Shreveport to three straight playoff berths and won the Texas League championship with 88-47 mark.

Wotus managed single-A San Jose and was selected California League Manager of Year in 1991 when he guided squad to playoffs with 92-44 record, best mark in all of professional baseball.

He was the 16th round draft pick of Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979 and enjoyed 11-year professional career, including parts of 1983 and '84 seasons with Pirates' Major League club, paying in 32 big league games with Bucs, owning .207 career mark with 2 RBI

His first Major League hit was single off Dodgers' Orel Hershiser at LA July 4, 1984

He has led efforts to raise additional funds and awareness for Junior Giants Baseball Program and Comfort for Kids, which provides specialized medical care to children throughout Bay Area who are facing a life-threatening illness, by organizing a post-game clinic on field at Pacific Bell Park for kids ages 8-12.

Wotus has also been active in Giants Community Fund Golf Tournament, participated in Giants first-ever holiday party at Pacific Bell Park in Dec. 2001, taking more than 150 homeless children on shopping spree at Giants Dugout Store, participates in Giants Summer Reading Program, encouraging Bay Area children to read and participates in Giants' off-season Care-A-Van, paying visits to hospitals, youth organizations and civic groups throughout Northern and Central California during January.