Orioles officials learned from yesterday's managerial interviews that Rick Dempsey bleeds orange and black and Davey Lopes is a candid man. In short, they didn't learn much they didn't already know.
What they did officially learn was that Cincinnati Reds manager Davey Johnson is interested in interviewing for the vacancy created when Johnny Oates was fired Monday. Reds owner Marge Schott granted the Orioles permission to speak to Johnson and Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he would speak to him today to arrange an interview.
The Orioles continue to proceed under the assumption that Oakland manager Tony La Russa will not be available, but remain interested in interviewing him should he become available after his contract expires on Oct. 7.
Both candidates interviewed yesterday said they were told the approximate time frame for filling the position is two weeks.
Johnson returned from a five-day vacation with his wife to find a barrage of phone messages at his home in Florida, including one from Reds general manager Jim Bowden, informing him of the Orioles' interest.
Johnson, 51, managed the New York Mets to a World Series title, two division titles and four second-place finishes before being replaced in May 1990. He assumed leadership of the Reds in May 1993, when Tony Perez was fired, and the Reds went 53-65 under him the rest of that season.
Johnson managed the Reds (66-48) to a Central Division title in strike-shortened 1994, but had a personality clash with the eccentric Schott, who prefers Reds coach Ray Knight's personality.
The Orioles will interview Cleveland Indians pitching coach Phil Regan and Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Bill Virdon today. (They requested to speak to Virdon's boss, Jim Leyland, but were denied permission.)
Yesterday's interviews were conducted at a downtown Baltimore hotel by a four-man panel of Hemond, assistant general manager Frank Robinson, vice chairman Joe Foss and attorney Russ Smouse, who works out of the law offices of Orioles owner Peter Angelos.
Hemond said assistant general manager Doug Melvin was not part of the process because he is a candidate for GM vacancies in Texas and St. Louis.
Clarifying reports about the timing of a probable front-office shake-up in which Roland Hemond would move to vice chairman, Angelos said the Orioles would hire a manager before addressing that issue.
Angelos interviewed Dempsey, but not Lopes because he already had met Lopes, Hemond explained. If either man is brought back for a second interview, Angelos will interview him, Hemond said.
Dempsey, whose lack of experience scares some in the organization, described himself as a "long shot."
Dempsey did not view himself as such a long shot, however, that he hadn't already begun considering who would be on his coaching staff.
"I would definitely want to have a veteran baseball man as my dugout coach," Dempsey said. "I would certainly like to talk to Cal Ripken Sr. about that. I think the old-school philosophy he brings would be great. . . . I think Mike Flanagan would be perfect as pitching coach. I like the idea of bringing Al Bumbry back up to the major-league level. I would hope Elrod [Hendricks] wouldlike to stay. The other two people I have in mind are with other organizations, so I don't want to say."
Lopes said he spoke his mind during the three-hour interview.
"If they like someone being candid, I think I've got a pretty good shot," Lopes said. "Just telling you what you want to hear is fine for some people, but that's not my style."
Lopes' style has made him popular with several players, including first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who endorsed Lopes for the job.
"Good," Palmeiro said, when informed Lopes was interviewed for the job. "He's got my vote. With Davey, everyone would come together as a team. Everyone respects Davey. I've played on teams where the players didn't respect the manager and when that happens it becomes just a bunch of individuals, not a team."
Palmeiro had kind words to say about Oates, but his feelings for Lopes are much stronger.
"We had that feeling of everyone pulling together to a point with Johnny, but there was something missing," Palmeiro said. "But I think Johnny did a good job. In my seven years in the big leagues he was the manager I enjoyed playing for the most. Still, there was something missing. The players would bust their tails for Davey."
L Dempsey promises to bring similar fire, if given the chance.
"The Orioles have been real close to first place for the last few years, but it seems like they were always the team that was a game or two out of first as opposed to a game ahead," Dempsey said. "Maybe there was a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of fire. Maybe what they need is a good surge of adrenalin or enthusiasm.