Just a few weeks ago, Joe Torre expressed concern that his pal Willie Randoph would be jerked around by the Mets rather than treated like a serious candidate. With MLB’s minority hiring practices in mind, The New York Times’ Murray Chass reports on former Chicago manager Jerry Manuel’s recent experience with Seattle.

When is a job interview not an interview? In baseball, it’s usually when a minority candidate is the interviewee.

The question arises now with the inclusion of Jerry Manuel among the four men the Seattle Mariners said were finalists for their managing job. That characterization came as news to Manuel.

The former manager of the Chicago White Sox, Manuel was the only minority candidate among the four; Grady Little, Terry Collins and Mike Hargrove, who got the job, were the other finalists.

“I think they had someone in mind before the lunch,” Manuel said. “I’ve noticed in the process most of the people have someone in mind, and unless you have a philosophy that knocks them over, that you pretty much don’t have a shot. I haven’t seen it as being open.”

Manuel had lunch in Los Angeles early last month with Bill Bavasi, the Mariners’ general manager, and two of his assistants. Manuel came away not even certain that he had been interviewed for the job.

“I guess you could call it an interview,” Manuel, speaking uncertainly, said by telephone. “I would assume it was more of a personal meeting, I felt, versus an interview.”

Did they say he was being interviewed for the job? “I can’t recollect the term they used,” Manuel said. “They said, ‘We’re going to ask you questions even though it isn’t an interview, but it is an interview.’ The way it was expressed to me was: ‘We’d like to get to know you. This is a get-to-know-you lunch. We’ve already done our research.’ ”

Manuel was asked again if he had been interviewed for the job. “I’d have to answer no, I don’t think I was interviewed for the job,” he said.

Bavasi said the Mariners, by design, did not technically interview any of the four finalists. He said they took a different approach and researched many candidates, then decided which ones they wanted to meet. Manuel, he said, was treated the same as the other three finalists.

“We told each guy we didn’t intend it to be an interview,” Bavasi said. “We were going more on research than on interviews. Not enough is learned in interviews. We wanted to get to know them.”

Bavasi said he was “shocked, disappointed and angry” at Manuel’s reaction, but he added: “Everybody interprets things on his own. He’s a man of integrity. That’s what our research led us to believe. That’s how he viewed things. We accept that, but it’s disappointing.”