Using just two words, the Baltimore Orioles stated the obvious last night: Frank Robinson will return as the team's manager for the 1991 baseball season. The team's coaching staff also will be kept intact.
"The job isn't done," Robinson said, repeating one of his pet phrases to describe the team's rebuilding effort.
Robinson, who works on a rollover contract that must be renewed each year, will enter his 16th season with the Orioles and his third as the team's manager.
"When you have the respect of the people you're working with, it makes your job that much easier," Robinson said. "I didn't have the respect at other places, but I have it here.
"I'd like to be the manager when the new stadium opens [in 1992]," he said. "Like I said last year at this time, we've started something that would be tough to walk away from."
The contracts of coaches Johnny Oates (first base), Tom McCraw (hitting), Cal Ripken Sr. (third base), Elrod Hendricks (bullpen), Curt Motton (outfielders) and Al Jackson (pitching) were also renewed.
Robinson said he doesn't anticipate the team will make wholesale lineup changes for next season.
"To me, you're spinning your wheels when you make a lot of changes," he said. "I think it will be some minor but very important changes. We'll take it in for a tuneup, not a complete overhaul."
* In 1990, Cal Ripken was the best defensive shortstop in major-league history.
It says so in the record book.
Ripken completed the season with a .996 fielding percentagejust ahead of the .992 racked up by Toronto's Tony Fernandez in 1989. Ripken committed only three errors, three fewer than the previous record of six, committed by Larry Bowa with the 1979 Philadelphia Phillies.
"I think 1984 was my best season defensively," Ripken said. "I made a lot more errors , but I took more chances and I played deep. I would cheat more defensively with that pitching staff. I covered all the ground behind third and second base that year. I can't say I did that this year."
Ripken had 681 total chances, 54 fewer than Fernandez (735) had during his record season in 1989.
"To have a year when your defense is recognized, you have to feel good," he said.
* Ripken was named last night the winner of the 1990 Louis M. Hatter Award as the most valuable Oriole.
He shared the honor with first baseman Eddie Murray in 1983 and 1988.
Ripken received 38 points (including five first-place votes) in the 5-3-1 scoring system of balloting by sports reporters assigned to cover the team. Reliever Gregg Olson finished second with 24 points (two first-place votes), and Randy Milligan was third with 16 points (two firsts). Others receiving points were Bill Ripken 13 (one first), Dave Johnson seven (one first) and Ben McDonald one.
* Sam Horn can sum up his first season with the Orioles in one sentence: "I started with a bang, got hurt, went through some down times and came back."
But Horn will have an opportunity to make a greater impact in 1991. Robinson said Horn will be given a chance to become the Orioles' everyday designated hitter.
"I feel great about him as our DH," Robinson said. "The ideal situation is to clear it out and let him be the guy."
* George Bell was seen in the Toronto Blue Jays' clubhouse reading his autobiography, "Hard Ball." It retails for $24.95 Canadian.
* What, Joe Price worry?
The Orioles' left-handed middle relief pitcher is confident that the team will renew the option on his contract.
"Being perfectly honest, if I were a free agent, I wouldn't have a problem getting a job," said Price, who was 3-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 50 appearances. "But I want to come back. I've filled a role here, and I would like the continuity of returning."
* It was getaway night in the Orioles' clubhouse. Players autographed one another's bats, traded off-season addresses and packed up for the winter. They also listened to a speech by Robinson.
"I told them that I appreciated the effort they gave this year, especially in the last five or six weeks," Robinson said. "I gave them a little rundown of what I expected them to do over the winter, so that they get to spring training and are ready to go."