Since the moment the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren, there has been speculation that the team would elevate senior adviser John Hart to the role, if not on a permanent basis then at least as a mentor to young rising assistant. Hart has mostly been evasive or issued non-denial denials with his comments, other than to say he wouldn't pursue the GM's position on a long-term basis.
That changed a little Thursday.
Hart, the team's interim general manager, acknowledged that he and team president John Schuerholz have had conversations about him taking the job on a short-term basis if a young GM is hired and that he is open to that possibility. But he would not say if that's the most likely scenario on the table for the Braves, adding, "I’m not in a position where I'm ready to handicap how this thing goes.
"We're going to put together a list of candidates, and I'm looking forward to having those (interviews). A month from now, there will be a little more meat on the bone and then I'll be able to have a better conversation in terms of where this thing goes."
Hart called Schuerholz "my best friend in the game." It's clear he could have the general manager's job if he wanted it. But he has enjoyed life free of responsibility and time commitments in the past year as a Braves' adviser and an analyst for the MLB Network.
"The difference now is when you step off the (television) set, you can put the problems that you’ve been discussing aside," he said. "That's part of the fun of it. It also makes for a tougher decision."
The most speculated scenario has had the Braves either pursuing Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore, who began his career in Atlanta, or promoting assistant GM John Coppolella or hiring another young personnel expert for the top role after working under Hart for a year or two.
"There has been some conversation that if we were to hire a younger guy, I could mentor him in whatever capacity or role that could work," Hart said. "If we did something with a more senior guy, I could simply morph back into the relative perfect world that I had. That's still to be determined.
"Obviously, John Coppolella is a bright guy -- young and inexperienced, but bright. There are a number of young guys in the baseball universe I would entertain talking to. John fits into that category."
Hart reiterated that has had "a number of opportunities to jump back" into baseball since his time in Cleveland (1989-2000) and Texas (2001-2013) but he has enjoyed his time with the Braves.
"It's not often you have an opportunity to work side by side with someone you have a great deal of respect for," he said, alluding to Schuerholz. "John has integrity and character and a love affair with the Atlanta Braves that he wears on his sleeve. I know the decisions of the past week has been painful for him. I feel a degree of obligation to John, and that's not a painful obligation.
"We'll see how things go. I don't come over here seeking a job, and John knows that. This thing can still go a lot of different ways."