The Baltimore Orioles will name as many as three new coaches soon, but club officials say the interview process could stretch into next week.
"There's no timetable," general manager Roland Hemond said. "We're working on it, but it has taken longer because of the different people becoming available."
Hemond said on the final day of the regular season that the club would work feverishly toward the 1992 season, but that was before a baseball-wide rash of coaching and managerial changes glutted the coaching talent pool.
Now, the Orioles are in a position to play the field, though manager John Oates would not rule out an announcement as early as this weekend.
Former Texas Rangers coach Davey Lopes apparently is at the top of the list of candidates and has been negotiating with the club. Rochester Red Wings manager Greg Biagini and pitching coach Dick Bosman also are under heavy consideration.
Lopes seemed like a lock to be reunited with Oates, a former teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but a question has arisen over which new coaches would be entitled to a share of Major League Baseball licensing fees and coverage under the Major League Players Association pension plan.
The union includes four uniformed coaches per team in the pension plan and allows five uniformed coaches to receive a share of baseball's substantial licensing profits (this year's payment was approximately $60,000). The Orioles probably will go with six coaches, so someone is going to be left out.
Lopes doesn't have to worry about the pension plan. He already is fully vested by virtue of his lengthy playing career. But he wants to be sure he will be one of the coaches to share in the licensing bonanza.
He would bring a desirable set of credentials to Baltimore. Oates has said for months that the club needs to make base-running a priority during spring training next year, and Lopes is a two-time National League stolen-base champion who ranks among baseball's all-time leaders in that department.
"I think it would be a good situation for me and for the club," Lopes said from his Southern California home. "Johnny and I go back a long way. I want to be there. I hope it comes together."
Negotiations and interviews continue on several fronts, but the Orioles no longer seem to be in any rush to complete them.
"It's important," club president Larry Lucchino said. "You don't want to rush into something. I know that Johnny has interviewed a number of people, but there is no specific deadline."