John Gibbons, currently Kansas City's bench coach, managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2004 to 2008.

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Kansas City Royals bench coach John Gibbons got a pleasant surprise upon returning home to Texas after a long season.

Gibbons received a phone call Tuesday from his team, telling him the Mariners had asked permission to interview him for their vacant managerial job. Though he hasn’t been contacted by the Mariners yet, Gibbons, 48, said he’s looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

“I guess they’ll call me when they’re ready and set something up,” Gibbons said. “It’s kind of exciting to know they’re interested.”

Gibbons won’t be the only bench coach the Mariners talk to. But he does offer something many of the others don’t: the fact he has big-league managerial experience, having been the Toronto Blue Jays field boss from 2004 through 2008.

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He compiled a .500 record, at 305-305, during three full seasons and parts of two others after taking over in August 2004 following the firing of Carlos Tosca. Gibbons spent parts of two seasons with the New York Mets as a catcher in the 1980s, then broke into professional coaching with that organization.

It was while working with Mets minor-leaguers in the 1990s that he met current Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik.

“In 1996 and 1997, when I was managing in Class A ball, he was the farm director,” Gibbons said. “So, yeah, we’ve worked together before.”

Whoever becomes manager, a strong working relationship with Zduriencik will be paramount. There was growing friction this past season between Zduriencik and former manager Don Wakamatsu over lineup choices, player personnel and in-game decisions.

Similar friction in Toronto between former GM J.P. Ricciardi and Tosca in 2004 is what led to Gibbons getting his dugout job in the first place. Gibbons had been a coach under Tosca, but was brought into the organization by Ricciardi, his former minor-league teammate with the Mets.

And so, when the phone calls from upstairs began coming into the dugout, before and after games, Gibbons handled them better than his predecessor did.

“Working together is important,” he said.

Other candidates the Mariners are expected to interview include San Diego Padres bench coach Ted Simmons, Chicago White Sox bench coach Joey Cora and Boston Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, none of whom has managed in the majors before. Zduriencik had previously insisted that major-league managing experience would be paramount in his choice, but later backed off those words and added that it would not necessarily be a must.

Sources say onetime Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who knows Zduriencik from his New York stint as well, remains in the mix.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or

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