Elrod Hendricks already has managed a bad Orioles team, going 4-11 in place of a hospitalized Frank Robinson in 1988. Now he wants to manage a good one.
Hendricks, 53, yesterday became the fifth candidate to interview for the vacancy created by the firing of Johnny Oates.
"I learned an awful lot," Hendricks said of his two pinch-hit managing stints for Robinson in 1988. "Mainly, I learned that you have to have good players to win."
When Orioles officials were not interviewing Hendricks, they were trying to track down several other candidates to arrange interviews for next week.
Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he contacted Buck Rodgers, former manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Montreal Expos and California Angels, and Rodgers told him he is interested in interviewing for the job.
Hemond said efforts to reach veteran ex-manager Whitey Herzog to test his interest were unsuccessful. Hemond also talked with St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Chris Chambliss to let him know they are interested. Chambliss initiated the contact earlier in the week.
As of early last night, Hemond still had not contacted Cincinnati Reds manager Davey Johnson, but planned to arrange interviews for next week with Johnson, Rodgers and Chambliss, who also has an interview Monday with the Kansas City Royals.
Meanwhile, team sources agreed that Cleveland Indians pitching coach Phil Regan helped his chances with "an impressive" interview.
In contrast, sources said, if Orioles coach Davey Lopes gets the job, it would be despite his interview, not because of it. Orioles players Rafael Palmeiro and Ben McDonald apparently have done a better job of selling Lopes' candidacy than did Lopes.
Lopes and Hendricks are the only members of Oates' coaching staff who have interviewed for the position. Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A manager Rick Dempsey and Pittsburgh Pirates coach Bill Virdon also interviewed.
"It was nice of them to give me that opportunity," Hendricks said. "I'm quite grateful for it, no matter what comes out of it. Nothing bad can come out of it."
Hendricks has been in an Orioles uniform for 26 season openers as a player and coach. Yesterday was his first interview for a major-league managing job.
"The Orioles have ways of giving me an opportunity to do things first with them," Hendricks said. "I was first called about it Monday night, but they didn't say anything [publicly] about it. It was a pleasant surprise."
Hendricks, who has lived in Randallstown since 1970, has been the only candidate who did not have to come in from out of town for the interview.
"It was very relaxing, a lot more relaxing than I thought it would be," Hendricks said. "I spoke from the heart. I think that's all they wanted."
It's no secret that assistant general manager Frank Robinson, joined on the interview panel by Hemond, vice chairman Joe Foss and attorney Russell Smouse, has great respect
for Hendricks' baseball knowledge and is a close friend.
Still, Robinson said, he is not pushing for Hendricks to get the job.
"I'm not backing anyone," Robinson said. "I'm interested in hearing what everyone has to say."
Said Hemond: "With his vast knowledge and background, we wanted to make sure we would interview him by all means. He's had a lot of visibility for many years here."
Rodgers had high visibility in the Angels' organization, but that didn't keep him from losing his job May 17, when general manager Bill Bavasi fired him even though the club was only two games out of first place in the weak American League West.
Rodgers, 56, underwent six hours of surgery after a bus crash May 21, 1992, that kept him out of the dugout until Aug. 28 of that season.
"He's interested in the job," Hemond said.
RED SOX CONTACT OATES
Recently fired Orioles manager Johnny Oates has been contacted by the Boston Red Sox about their managing vacancy and has arranged a meeting with them for early next week, according to sources familiar with the Red Sox search.
Oates, fired Monday by the Orioles after compiling a 291-270 record in four seasons, has spent the week relaxing at home with his family in Colonial Heights, Va.
Oates, who said he would like to land another managing job, declined to comment on an interview with the Red Sox, one of the Orioles' American League East competitors.
"Any clubs I talk to I'm going to let the people at the other end announce whatever they want to say," Oates said.