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Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is set to interview Nippon Ham Fighters skipper Trey Hillman by telephone for the team’s managerial opening, according to a report on the major league club’s official Web site.

Hillman, who guided the Fighters to their first Japan Series title in 44 years with a 4-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons in Game 5 of the series Thursday, is among five candidates to replace Buck Showalter, who was dismissed earlier this month.

Hillman is unlikely to be able to meet with Daniels as there will be a victory parade for the Fighters, whose win means they now go on to play in the Asian Series against teams from China, Taiwan and South Korea.

“The reality is I may not be able to meet face-to-face with Trey,” the report quoted Daniels as saying.

“I don’t have the time to travel over there (to Japan) and Trey can’t travel out of there. He has other obligations. There’s a good chance he’ll be interviewed by phone,” Daniels added.

Rangers’ bench coach Don Wakamatsu is perceived to be the leading candidate to take the job because of his relationship with Daniels and will be the last person to be interviewed, the report said.

“I would like for it to be that way,” Wakamatsu was quoted as saying. “I think if you have a checklist of what you want from a manager, one would be the relationship with the general manager, the confidence level and the trust factor.”

Bochy steps in The Associated Press San Diego manager Bruce Bochy has agreed to replace Boston’s Terry Francona on an All-Star tour of Japan, major league officials said on Friday.

Francona withdrew because of a foot infection, three days after replacing Ken Macha as the team’s skipper. Macha was replaced after he was fired as Oakland’s manager.

Baseball officials also announced that pitchers John Maine of the New York Mets and Clay Hensley of the Padres have been added to the roster, replacing injured outfielder Carlos Beltran and pitcher Johan Santana.

Meanwhile, Bochy has agreed to become the new skipper of the San Francisco Giants, and was still working out details Thursday night after meeting with team officials most of the day.

Bochy had agreed in principle to take the job left vacant when Felipe Alou’s contract was not renewed, two baseball officials said on condition of anonymity because the deal was still pending.

Barring any last-minute snags, Bochy would be introduced at a news conference Friday.

He was the only candidate to replace Alou who has previous major league managerial experience, something general manager Brian Sabean said he preferred.

The Giants received permission from the Padres on Wednesday to talk to Bochy, who traveled to the Bay Area on Thursday to meet with Sabean and other team officials.

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