Originally created 08/25/06

Coaching duo look like future managers



ATLANTA - They're fun to watch on this lazy, hot summer afternoon as they banter back and forth while overseeing batting practice at Turner Field.

They pick on each other. They pick on those standing around them, feeding off one another. And then they pick on each other a little more.

Atlanta Braves assistant coaches Fredi Gonzalez and Terry Pendleton have a good time doing their jobs. Seems like they're pretty good at them, too.

That's probably why a handful of major league teams have come calling about "Gonzo" and "TP" in regard to their open managerial jobs. And why they'll do so again in the near future.

Both Gonzalez, in his fourth year as Atlanta's third base coach, and Pendleton, in his fifth as its hitting coach, are somewhat reserved when it comes to talking about their career aspirations. They don't want to offend their current employer, they say.

But both admit being the skipper of a big league club is something they'd like to do one day. Perhaps they will relatively soon.

Pendleton, 46, talked with Philadelphia a couple of seasons ago about taking over for Larry Bowa. He interviewed, too, for the Los Angeles Dodgers position.

Gonzalez, 42, interviewed and was thought to be in the running for the Florida Marlins job this past off-season, but they went with first-time manager Joe Girardi.

"Absolutely, they'd be great. Both of them," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "They've got great qualities to go into that profession. Both of them are great communicators, know the game, love the game."

That's a pretty good endorsement from one of the best endorsers in the game regarding that particular job.

Consider this: In a survey of 470 major league players released this week by Sports Illustrated, 30 percent voted Cox baseball's best manager. Detroit's Jim Leyland was second, with 18 percent.

So, Gonzalez and Pendleton are learning from the best, according to the players.

So did former Braves assistant Ned Yost, who has the Brewers in the National League wild card race in his fourth year as the Milwaukee manager.

Stories such as that - and ones like Ozzie Guillen's White Sox winning the World Series - bode well for Gonzalez, Pendleton and other young managers looking to break in.

"I'd love for every young manager, every first-year manager to succeed," Gonzalez said. "I really root for those guys just because it opens up the eyes of the owners and general managers and presidents that young guys, first-year managers that can do pretty well."

And, given the chance, seems like Gonzalez and Pendleton would have a pretty good time doing it.

Reach R. Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.



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