UPDATE: Mets complete first round of interviews for manager

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UPDATE: The Wally Backman campaign is still alive and kicking, for some reason. According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, Backman has made it through to the second round of interviews for the Mets’ manager job.

The rest of the field played out as expected, as Terry Collins, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale are the other finalists, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today that he hopes to name a manager by Thanksgiving.

Hey, at least Craig can still have some more fun with this whole process.

7:21 PM: It’s done. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson confirmed to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com just a short while ago that he has completed the first round of interviews for the team’s managerial vacancy.

“The first round is officially closed,” Alderson said. “We hope to bring back several candidates over the balance of this week. If everything goes as we hope, we could have the second round completed by the end of the week. There won’t need to be a Round 3. … I would say right now that it’s very possible we’d have a manager announced by Thanksgiving.”

Alderson did not acknowledge that a front-runner for the job existed, but Rubin expects that Terry Collins, Bob Melvin and Chip Hale will all likely receive second interviews. “Organizational sources” tell Rubin that Collins is the favorite, with Melvin as the most likely alternative.

Right on cue, Ken Davidoff of New York Newsday reports that the Mets have informed Hale that he is a finalist for the job. Hale just completed his first season as third base and infield coach with the club. He would likely stay with the organization if the Mets ultimately settle on Collins or Melvin.

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.