NEW YORK -- Rumors of sweeping changes on the New York Yankees' coaching staff swirled around Yankee Stadium last night, emanating from a television report that third-base coach Buck Showalter, pitching coach Billy Connors and batting coach Darrell Evans were out and that only first-base coach Mike Ferraro and bullpen/pitching coach Mark Connor would be retained.
As expected, the report was denied by all parties, but there was enough smoke surrounding the ballpark to indicate a fire was raging somewhere.
It ws learned that changes are indeed being contemplated, if not yet formalized. Already -- perhaps as a result of the television report or maybe through industry scuttlebutt -- several calls have been placed to the Yankees' offices to inquire about coaching vacancies.
It has been learned that Connor is likely to move up as pitching coach with Tony Cloninger, currently a roving pitching coordinator, moving into Connor's role, and that Ferraro would move from the first-base coaching lines to serve as Merrill's bench coach.
Other names surfacing as possible coaches next season are Dick Tidrow (currently a major-league scout with the Yankees), Johnny Oates (presently on Baltimore's coaching staff and a former manager in the Yankees' farm system), Fred "Chicken" Stanley and Wayne Tolleson.
In another published report, it was stated that each of the Yankees coaches received a $100,000 bonus as a parting gesture from deposed general partner George Steinbrenner. That, too, was denied, most emphatically, by the coaches.
"Really," said Connors. "Where's the money? I don't have it."
Connors said he received several telephone calls yesterday from friends commiserating with him for being out with the Yankees.
"I don't know anything about it," Connors said. "I haven't been told anything."
Connors did acknowledge that he is not signed beyond this season. None of the coaches are.
According to GM Gene Michael, "We're going to decide after the season. The guy who reported this is the same guy who said we sent all our scouts home, which we didn't."
Asked about his coaches for 1991, manager Stump Merrill took the same position as Michael, saying it would be discussed at the team's organizational meetings.
"I'm going to Florida when it [the season] is over," Merrill said. "That [the makeup of the coaching staff] has got to be part of it. It's got to be a priority."