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Graham interviews for Reds' managerial job

Joe Rutter
| Thursday, Nov. 20, 2003

Pirates director of player development Brian Graham, one of four finalists for the vacant Cincinnati Reds managerial job, interviewed Wednesday in Cincinnati.

Graham, 43, was the first of the four finalists to be interviewed. Reds general manager Dan O'Brien, who wasn't hired until Oct. 27, plans to make his decision sometime next week.

Graham could not be reached for comment last night. He told Tuesday that he was excited for the chance to manage the Reds.

"It was too good an opportunity to pass up - to broaden my horizons and open up other avenues in the game," he said. "I feel I'm much more well-rounded at this point."

A successful minor-league manager in the 1990s with the Cleveland Indians, Graham has spent the past two seasons as the Pirates farm director. The Pirates farm system had a .581 winning percentage that was the best among all major-league teams. In 2002, Graham's first season, the Pirates were honored as the TOPPS' Organization of the Year.

Texas Rangers general manager John Hart could have recommended Graham to O'Brien, who was Hart's assistant before taking the Reds' job. When Hart was the Cleveland Indians general manager, Graham was a minor-league manager for eight seasons and first base coach on the major-league staff in the 1998-99 seasons.

Graham compiled a 704-491 record as a minor-league manager. His teams finished in first place five times and second three times during the regular season, making the post-season in all eight years. He was the Carolina League's manager of the year in 1991 and the minor league manager of the year, by Baseball Weekly, in 1996. He also has managed in the Dominican Republic and Arizona Fall League.

Meanwhile, the Pirates must set their 40-man roster today by midnight. Indications are they will add minor-league pitchers Ian Oquendo, John VanBenschoten, Mike Johnston and Sean Burnett.

Oquendo was the organization's pitcher of the year in 2003, going 14-3 and finishing the season at Class AA Altoona. Burnett won the award the previous two seasons and was 14-6 at Altoona in 2003. VanBenschoten was 13-6 at Class A Lynchburg and Altoona. Johnston, a left-handed reliever, was 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 46 appearances with Altoona.

The Pirates are expected to clear roster space by removing recently-signed pitchers Duaner Sanchez and Nelson Figueroa and at least two others from the 40-man roster.

If Oquendo, VanBenschoten, Johnston and Burnett are the only minor leaguers added to the roster, the Pirates would head into the winter meetings having exposed Chris Shelton, the organization's player of the year, to the Rule 5 draft. Other players on the unprotected list would be third baseman Jose Bautista, center fielder Chris Duffy and left-handed relief pitcher Frank Brooks, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in the Mike Williams trade.

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