Bosman's farewell pitch carries no regrets, except from staff

September 29, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

Pitching coach Dick Bosman became the latest victim of the Orioles' reorganization yesterday, joining the ranks of baseball's unemployed less than 48 hours after the club fired manager Johnny Oates.

Bosman, who became pitching coach in 1992 after spending four years as the club's minor-league pitching instructor, apparently asked for an early decision on his uncertain status and was informed early yesterday by general manager Roland Hemond that he would not be re-hired for the 1995 season.

"Usually, when you hire a new manager, he likes to choose his own pitching coach," Hemond said. "We felt that it might be better -- because we don't have a manager in place -- for Dick to take his release now and he agreed. This way, he doesn't have to wait for the process to take place before he can look for another job."

It did not come as a surprise to anyone, including Bosman, whose future with the Orioles figured to hinge on whether Oates was allowed to finish out his two-year contract.

"When Johnny got it, I expected to go with him," Bosman said yesterday. "That's just the way it is in this business. There is no bitterness here. I want to make that clear."

Bosman inherited a pitching staff that was in shambles and presided over a dramatic turnaround. The club led the league in shutouts (16) in his first season and registered the lowest team ERA by an Orioles staff since 1984.

The 1994 staff didn't exactly reflect poorly on the pitching coach either. Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald ranked among the league leaders in victories, and closer Lee Smith led the majors with 33 saves when the season was interrupted.

"I'm surprised," said McDonald. "I wasn't that surprised about Johnny, because I felt the communication wasn't there, but that wasn't the case with Dick. He was not only a good pitching coach, he was a good friend and someone you could talk to about anything.

"I think he did a great job. I think we had the worst pitching staff in '91, then he showed up and we were second or third in '92. He did a lot for guys' careers, like [Jamie] Moyer and [Rick] Sutcliffe, and he helped bring along Mike and me. He helped me a huge amount. This is a big disappointment."

Moyer agreed. He already was in the process of turning his career around when he joined the Orioles early in the 1993 season, but Bosman was right there with him when he re-established himself as a major-league starter.

"I thought he did a good job," Moyer said. "In dealing with Bos, if I had a question or we disagreed on something, we always seemed to work it out. I liked that about him, because I have had some pitching coaches who wouldn't allow you to do that. He helped me with my thought processes and worked a lot with me on changing speeds. He stood behind me -- whether it was a good outing or a bad one -- and gave me more confidence."

Bosman tried to cast his dismissal in a positive light. He accepted the news from Hemond graciously, and expressed gratitude for getting the opportunity to work for the club for the past seven years.

"I want to thank Doug Melvin for hiring me and giving me the opportunity to learn at the minor-league level," he said. "I want to thank Roland Hemond and Frank Robinson for the counsel and guidance and support. I want to thank the pitching staff for their enthusiastic cooperation. There were very few who didn't do what I asked of them. Most of all, I want to thank Johnny Oates for giving me the opportunity to work alongside of him in Baltimore."

Oates likely will get another chance to manage in the majors, and it would not take a stretch of the imagination to envision Bosman's showing up in the same place. They worked well together and ended the strike-shortened season on good terms.

"In my opinion, no one cared more about the Orioles organization and its players and coaches than Johnny Oates," Bosman said.

The move left the rest of the coaching staff in place for the moment, though there could be further changes after the Orioles settle on a replacement for Oates. If the timing of the decision seemed curious, it was because Bosman pressed the club to let him know where he stood so he would have plenty of time to look for a new job if necessary.

Speculation on Bosman's successor has centered on former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, who worked last year as an Orioles minor-league pitching instructor and as a commentator for Home Team Sports. Flanagan would be a popular choice, but the job will not be filled until after the managerial search has been completed.

Flanagan said yesterday that he is interested in the job, but would not have an easy time choosing between a full-time coaching position and his fledgling broadcasting career.

"I think I've done reasonably well with the broadcasting," he said, "and I feel like the last few years of my career I was a part-time pitching coach. I think I could handle it, though I haven't given it a lot of thought. I guess I've always thought that being a pitching coach would come fairly naturally. Both [coaching and broadcasting] are exciting to me."

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