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Jays' search for president continues

Jays' search for president continues

TORONTO -- The interim tag attached to Paul Beeston's title as the Blue Jays' president and CEO isn't going to be removed any time soon. Toronto is still actively searching for a permanent replacement for Beeston, though it appears the process will carry into Spring Training.

On Tuesday night, Beeston -- in town with general manager J.P. Ricciardi and manager Cito Gaston for the club's annual State of the Franchise event for season-ticket holders -- said he hoped the hunt for a new club president would pick up steam in the coming weeks.

"The search is going," Beeston said. "It's not moving as fast as I would like it, or as fast as probably other people would like it, but it's got some legs. I've talked to some people, and hopefully, it'll come to a conclusion -- I won't say shortly -- but not in the distant future.

"We've got a short list of people who I have talked to. There are some other people that will be vetted and will be discussed, and hopefully, we bring this thing forward at a faster pace than it's been in the past 3 1/2 months."

A bit further down the road, the Blue Jays may also need to begin a search for a new general manager. Ricciardi's current contract expires after the 2010 season, and during a question-and-answer session with Blue Jays fans, Beeston was asked if the club had discussed an extension for the GM.

Beeston said the issue hasn't been raised, and Ricciardi later told reporters that he might be leaning toward life beyond the Blue Jays after his contract runs its course.

"I don't know," said Ricciardi, who lives in Worcester, Mass., with his wife and two sons. "I'll be honest with you -- my two boys are growing up, and it's tough when you leave the house. ... That's a tough thing, whether you're going on a road trip or wherever. They're at a point where they need their father around a lot, too.

"So that's a family decision based on where my boys are with their development. They play a lot of hockey and they play a lot of baseball and they go to good schools, and it's important. Look, my No. 1 priority is to be a father -- it's not to be a GM. I love being a GM and I love being here in Toronto, but in two years time I'll sit back and rethink where that goes and where that takes me."

Ricciardi said his potential decision to leave the Blue Jays would have nothing to do with the team's success or his relationship with club ownership.

"This is a great situation," Ricciardi said. "This isn't a situation where ownership gets up and says, 'OK, guys, you'd better finish first, [or] you'd better finish second.' And, I've said this for years, if anything, we put more internal demands on pressure on ourselves to win. It's not that our ownership doesn't want to win, but I think we want to do it in a sense maybe more than they do.

"We have great ownership here. This is a great place to work. This is a great city. I've told people for years, to me, Toronto, having been here and getting to know it, this is one of the best cities in the world and I love it here. We've done everything we want to do here but make the playoffs. That's the one thing we want to do."

The Jays haven't made the postseason since winning the World Series in 1993, though Ricciardi is quick to note that the team -- playing in arguably the toughest division in baseball -- has pieced together three consecutive winning seasons and has four winning campaigns in his seven years at the helm.

While it's been suggested that Beeston -- the Jays' president for the team's consecutive World Series titles in 1992-93 -- might be the best candidate to assume his current role in a permanent capacity, the team's future will presumably include a new president and CEO. Beeston took over on an interim basis for outgoing president Paul Godfrey in October.

For the time being, Beeston said the club's decisions aren't hindered by the ongoing search.

"Not now," Beeston said. "We want to get set for the year. Once we're set, we know what we're doing -- whether it's right or whether it's wrong -- we know what we're doing. From the point of view of the direction we go with the team, that's pretty well set for 2009. As we set for 2010, we know we want somebody there who will have the vision to take it forward and be able to set the goals and the framework a little bit for the next four or five years."

Beeston added that the new hire isn't likely to be in place before the start of Spring Training.

"I would think not," Beeston said. "There's nothing to say that it won't, but I would think not -- to be realistic about it. Spring Training is only three weeks away, so I don't think we're talking about anything getting done before then. We want to make sure it's the right decision."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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