Padres skipper Bruce Bochy was granted permission this week to interview for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy. Given Bochy’s success in San Diego, the Union-Tribune’s Tim Sullivan asks club prez Sandy Alderson why he’d alow such a thing.

œGenerally, my view is that people who perceive an outside opportunity who are not given the chance to explore that opportunity are not happy going forward, Alderson said yesterday in a telephone interview. œ … In most cases, I want people to explore those opportunities so that when they ultimately decide to stay, they’re happy campers.

Alderson must never have known a woman who told him they should see other people in order to find out if they were really right for each other. He must never have been needy, or possessive or insecure. He has given Bochy permission to flirt with other franchises without any pledge of eternal fidelity, and without any obvious repercussions should he choose to stay.

Alderson is playing hard to get, even though the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are in the market for a new manager.

When a manager wins back-to-back division titles with a relatively modest payroll, he’s normally in line for a raise. Yet instead of a pre-emptive gesture of gratitude, Bochy received no bankable assurances from the Padres. Under the circumstances, he is bound to be a bit anxious about his future.

œI certainly didn’t indicate to Bruce that I was unhappy with his performance as manager, Alderson said. œ … Had you been at the lunch on Wednesday, you probably would have assessed it as reassuring. Like anything else, the real tenor of the situation is a function of the people and not the procedure that appears to be involved.

In attempting to put a good face on a frown, agent Tony Attanasio has lauded Alderson’s œsense of fairness in allowing Bochy to investigate other possibilities. Yet that position also underscores the perception that Alderson believes most of his employees are expendable, especially those he inherited.

Would Alderson’s œsense of fairness apply if another club wanted to woo Chris Young or Josh Barfield? Not for a New York minute or a San Diego second. Key players are considered precious assets in baseball. Field managers are comparatively fungible.