Oates fill-in Biagini takes a step back in managing time

SIDELIGHT

June 17, 1994|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Sun Staff Writer

The first subject the Orioles' fill-in manager was asked to address before last night's game was the performance to date of the batting coach.

And since Greg Biagini was one and the same last night, his assessment was understandably kind.

"He's worked hard. They [the hitters] are starting to prosper," said Biagini, with a sly grin.

On the outside, Biagini, who is normally unflappable, appeared to be the paragon of cool, even if the weather was not.

After all, Biagini, 42, has nine years of minor-league managerial experience -- more than any of the other Orioles coaches -- and a few weeks advance time to prepare for last night's arrangement.

But Biagini did admit to a bit of excitement over the chance, albeit brief, to run a major-league club.

"Hopefully, someday, if the opportunity presents itself, I'd like to manage," said Biagini.

Biagini, in his third season as Orioles batting coach, got the job last night because manager Johnny Oates was attending his son Andy's high school graduation.

"I missed so much of my kids growing up, and I didn't want to

miss this," Oates said Wednesday night. "I appreciate Mr. [Peter] Angelos and Roland [Hemond] letting me do this. It's a nice gesture and they didn't have to do it."

Biagini's managerial career has been a success. His overall record in nine seasons, all spent in the Orioles' organization, was and in his final three seasons at Triple-A Rochester, the Red Wings finished no worse than second, capturing the International League title in 1990.

The current Orioles who played for Biagini in Rochester remember him as a steady manager, who used the entire lineup and wasn't afraid to take chances.

"That second year when we won it all, he did some gambling from time to time, but with the club we had, he could take a few chances," said catcher Chris Hoiles. "He played everybody and kept everybody fresh. He was always there to help any way he could."

The one word that repeatedly comes up in describing Biagini's managerial philosophy is aggressive.

"He was always an aggressive manager and he liked to put guys in motion," said catcher Jeff Tackett. "If you were a hitter and you saw a guy with a good jump, you could either swing through or let him go. He's a lot like Johnny."

Said Biagini: "At the minor-league level, you could be a little more aggressive. You're able to take advantage of a few more things. I don't know how things would work here. I like an offense that tries to keep the defense on their heels."

Biagini said he had Oates' permission to field the lineup of his choice, but last night's lineup was virtually identical to Wednesday's after Mike Devereaux went out with his injury.

"When you looked at the numbers, the lineup pretty much made itself out. Why change?" said Biagini. "I'm kind of hoping for four or five innings like [Wednesday]."

He said he would lean heavily on the counsel of pitching coach Dick Bosman, who performed the same duties for Biagini in Rochester, on when to lift a pitcher.

And in the event of a disagreement with an umpire, Biagini said there probably wouldn't be any chest-to-chest, backward cap confrontations.

"I've calmed down a lot," said Biagini. "I used to be very vocal early in my career. Not anymore."

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