BOSTON -- After deliberating for 11 days, the Orioles and Rick Dempsey reached an agreement yesterday that satisfies both parties and the American League.
Dempsey's role is not clearly defined, but he will work as an instructor throughout the organization, concentrating on the major-league level. He also will do marketing and promotional work.
Invited to spring training as a non-roster player, Dempsey lost to Jeff Tackett in his bid to become backup catcher behind Chris Hoiles. He has remained in uniform and continued to work out with the Orioles since the season began.
Because he in effect was a one-man taxi squad, however, Dempsey had to be given a job classification acceptable to the American League office. Through the first eight games, he had been allowed to be on the Orioles bench by permission of the opposing managers.
"I needed a title in order to stay on the bench," Dempsey said. "I'm going to work as an instructor at the major-league and minor-league levels, and maybe do some public relations work.
"I signed a contract to do all of those things," Dempsey said, "but I'll continue to work out and be ready to play if the opportunity comes."
With a full complement of five coaches in place, restricting Dempsey in that area, and Sammy Snider serving as the lone bullpen catcher allowed, the Orioles had to be innovative to find a way to satisfy American League regulations.
It is expected that Dempsey will remain with the Orioles almost exclusively. "He'll do a little bit of everything -- he's already thrown some batting practice," manager Johnny Oates said.
If the Orioles direct Dempsey to work with anyone in the minor leagues, he could end up with a familiar student. His nephew, Greg Zaun, is catching for the Orioles' Single-A team in Frederick.
Included in Dempsey's contract is an agreement that he could leave if a playing opportunity arose. "If another team called and wanted me," Dempsey said, "then the Orioles would either have to activate me or let me go. In effect, they have the right of first refusal."
Although Dempsey had other offers to go to spring training as a non-roster player (the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies were two clubs interested), his preference was to return to the Orioles.
"I'd give up a half-season for the chance to finish here," Dempsey said after being informed the day before the season started that he would not be added to the roster.
For the time being, Dempsey's primary job as an instructor will be to serve as an insurance policy behind Hoiles and Tackett.