Robinson speaks out on Oates

June 07, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- During his 42 years in professional baseball, Frank Robinson has built a reputation as a sound baseball man with a deep passion for the game, an up-front individual who doesn't shy away from a confrontation.

He doesn't care to see that reputation destroyed by the notion he carries a stiletto through the Orioles' offices, waiting for the right moment to catch manager Johnny Oates alone in a dark hall.

Thanks to a pair of Washington Post reports citing unnamed sources, Robinson is aware he is being painted in some corners as a man trying to get his old job, which happens to be Oates' current job.

"If anybody thinks I'm up there back-stabbing him, trying to get his job, they couldn't be further from the truth," Robinson said. "That's not me. That's not my personality."

Robinson, 58, has a 738-814 record as a big-league manager. Thirty-seven games into 1991, his fourth season as the Orioles manager, he was fired.

Now an assistant general manager for the Orioles, Robinson has input on roster decisions and works, along with Doug Melvin, as one of general manager Roland Hemond's two chief lieutenants.

"I'm one of the manager's biggest supporters in the front office," Robinson said. "I have a feel for what a manager goes through, what his needs are. I know because I've been there."

Two sentences in recent Post reports led many talk-show callers to believe Robinson is gunning for Oates.

The first was in a report that suggested Oates' job was in jeopardy: "As one top club official said, Angelos 'won't let things go on like this forever.' "

The second appeared in a feature on Oates: "Oates believes -- apparently with some reason, according to sources -- that at least one longtime Orioles employee is cutting him up in hopes of getting the job."

Robinson's reaction: "I know what people think when they read that. They think it's me. I wasn't the top club official quoted and I don't back-stab anybody. I don't need to back-stab anybody."

Robinson told The Sun recently that he would consider managing the Orioles again if asked, but said the topic has not been discussed and he does not expect it to be discussed.

"I'm not looking for Johnny's job," Robinson said. "I have a job."

Robinson said he did not like Oates' job security becoming an issue. "It creates an air of tension, an air of uneasiness within the club," Robinson said. "It creates it on the field and in the clubhouse. You don't need that when you are out there trying to win the division title."

Nothing, Robinson says, is more harmful to an organization than a back-stabber.

"I'm part of the organization," he said. "I don't go out and try to undermine someone to get their job. I have my job. My role is just like a GM. I am an assistant to Roland. I have a voice. It's not my job to make decisions on firing and hiring the manager. It's Roland's decision."

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Kansas City Royals

Site: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Ben McDonald (8-3, 3.89) vs. Royals' David Cone (8-2, 2.64)

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