Robinson adjusting to front office

August 08, 1991|By Kent Baker

At first, he missed the field.

The position that followed entailed long hours, mounds of paperwork and a lot of telephone conversations.

But Frank Robinson is getting accustomed to the territory of assistant general manager with the Baltimore Orioles and getting more involved with the internal operations of the organization.

So much so that the deposed manager of the team rejects the idea that he will manage again after three terms in the dugout -- with the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and Orioles.

"The longer I'm away from it, the less I miss it," Robinson said yesterday. "People are telling me how much younger I look, how relaxed I am since I got out of the dugout. I just say 'thank you.' "

Fired May 23, Robinson took a little more than two weeks to decide to return to the Orioles in his new capacity. His duties still aren't clearly defined on the only team in baseball with two assistant general managers.

But general manager Roland Hemond said Robinson's input "broadens every day. He is absorbing everything quickly. You can tell he loves what he's doing. That makes it a pleasure for me."

The addition has removed some of the workload from Hemond, who said "you don't have to look up at the end of the day and say 'I wish I'd done that.' "

Doug Melvin, the first assistant GM, is still basically responsible for the minor-league organization, but Robinson has had input into that area recently in what amounts to a training program to become a general manager.

Melvin said he is "still asked to do the same duties and I don't think anything has changed for me. I still have the same goals."

They are the same as Robinson's-- to become a general manager. Melvin's name has been mentioned as a candidate for the expansion Florida Marlins' job but he said "it's still speculation now."

But Robinson said there is no conflict and that he is "not looking to see what Doug is doing. I'm not trying to beat him to Roland's chair. We work well together, but we're not afraid to speak out with our opinions."

Said Hemond: "All I know is we've had more in-depth baseball conversations since Frank came aboard. Everybody contributes. It's the culmination of teamwork."

Robinson is taking his new role one step at a time, learning the team's minor-league system, the other 25 teams' organizations, wading through the maze of waiver rules and establishing and re-establishing contacts.

His major duty is tracking National League personnel because of his familiarity and contacts there.

Hemond has signed a two-year contract, so the likelihood of anyone replacing him soon is remote.

"I'm not here to knock Roland out of his position," said Robinson. "If it opens, I'd like to be considered. But if there is something elsewhere, I'd like to be considered for that.

"That would have to be a very attractive offer, a significant step. I have no feelings about leaving here just to get away."

In his first stint in the front office in early 1988 before he was named the manager, Robinson had sparse exposure to GM duties. "I didn't put a foot in the door," he said. This time, it is a hands-on arrangement.

Said Hemond: "We didn't make a deal before the deadline, but we have no regrets this time that we didn't pursue all the possibilities. "Doug is traveling more and Frank is here if something happens. We look at it as a triumvirate."

Hemond said Robinson is also involved with arrangements at the new stadium and is "already getting some indoctrination" into contract negotiations.

Bob Watson in Houston is the only other black assistant general manager.

Robinson said it shows blacks "are making some progress" in becoming front-office executives. "It is good that we are being educated in such jobs. But I don't make a big deal of it, but it is news."

From the general manager's box on the mezzanine level, the manager in Robinson still shows.

"It's an adrenalin, anxiety thing," he said. "I have a tendency to think along with the managers, not just Johnny [Oates], but the other team's, too. I want to see if we're thinking along the same lines.

"We all second-guess. I guess you never lose that."

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