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Tick … tick … tick …

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Word comes today that the New York Yankees might be set to announce their new manager as soon as tomorrow, barely a week after Joe Torre opted not to return for 2008. The Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds already have concluded their manager searches.

Almost three weeks after firing Jim Tracy, the Pirates have barely begun the interview process for a new manager. At this pace, you wonder if the new guys — the manager, assistant GM, farm director, etc. — will be in place before MLB’s winter meetings begin … even or spring training.

General manager Neal Huntington says he doesn’t have a timetable for making the hire. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; there’s no need to rush and wind up with a poor choice.

And yet …

I keep hearing whispers that things are taking a while to develop because the Pirates are having trouble finding people who are eager to work for them. The team’s track record over the past 15 seasons, combined with owner Bob Nutting’s decree of a low-budget, home-grown approach to roster-building, are not an attractive lure. Huntington insists that is not the case.

“I can’t tell you the interest level,” Huntington said. “But I can tell you we’re very pleased with the number and quality of names we’ve gotten from various sources. The ability to narrow that list has taken some time and a number of phone calls. We’re very satisfied with the depth of talent of the names we’ve been given.”

Speaking of the manager search, here are two more names to keep in the back of your mind: Ron Roenicke and Rudy Jaramillo.

Roenicke played in the majors from 1981-88. He’s spent seven years with the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels, the first six as third base coach and this year as bench coach. From 1994-98, he managed at the rookie, Single-, Double- and Triple-A levels in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

Jaramillo might be jettisoned as the Texas Rangers’ hitting coach. Three years ago, he interviewed for the New York Mets’ manager job which ultimately went to Willie Randolph.

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