Johnson on deck for interview

October 05, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Drum roll, please.

Davey Johnson, the job applicant with the most impressive resume, arrives in Baltimore today to interview for the Orioles' managing vacancy.

He will be the eighth candidate to interview for the position that opened when Johnny Oates was fired Sept. 26, and the only one who has a World Series title (1986 New York Mets).

For the Orioles, eight apparently isn't enough.

"We're trying to arrange for at least one other candidate to come in," Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said.

The Orioles had more luck getting a hold of Jeff Torborg, who has managed the Mets, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, than they did reaching Whitey Herzog.

Torborg is interested in managing again. Herzog apparently is not, with the possible exception of returning to the St. Louis Cardinals should that job open up.

Torborg was fired by the Mets after managing them to a 13-25 start in 1993. The Mets went 72-90 under Torborg in 1992.

Torborg posted a .515 winning percentage with the White Sox, managing them from 1989 to 1991. From 1989 to 1990, the White Sox celebrated their first season in new Comiskey Park by improving from 69 wins to 94 and nearly doubling their attendance from 1 million-plus to 2 million.

He managed the Indians in parts of three seasons (1977-79) and posted a .439 winning percentage. Torborg's link to the Orioles? Assistant general manager Frank Robinson, who recruited Torborg to be on his first coaching staff when Robinson became player-manager of the Indians in 1975.

"I want to manage again and pick up where we left off with the White Sox," Torborg said. "I have a very poor taste in my mouth about how the situation went with the Mets. We had a lot of injuries and I just didn't get the job done. It's just not a good feeling."

Torborg, named manager of the Indians when Robinson was fired, always has said Walter Alston and Robinson were the two biggest influences he drew on as a manager.

"I didn't want to take the job because I thought it should have been Frank's job," Torborg said of his first managing job. "He said take it and see what you can do. After I replaced him, we won our first eight games and Frank was calling me every day giving me advice. That was special."

Torborg, an analyst for CBS Radio who is living in Sarasota, Fla., said he was contacted by the Orioles earlier in the week and they talked about arranging an interview in Baltimore, perhaps Friday.

He will be the ninth candidate interviewed. Cardinals hitting instructor Chris Chambliss, who interviewed yesterday, was the seventh.

"It's evident he would like to become a big-league manager and I would expect he will be one at some time," Hemond said. "He's managed in the minors and it's evident he loves the game. He played it very aggressively."

Chambliss was interviewed for the Kansas City Royals' opening Monday. "I enjoyed them both," Chambliss said. "Every time I go in for an interview, it's a pretty good learning experience because of the questions they ask."

Meanwhile, Oakland Athletics manager Tony La Russa is expected to return from a European vacation by week's end, at which time he plans to talk to the A's before entertaining feelers from the Orioles and Boston Red Sox.

Barring interest from La Russa, Johnson shapes up as the apparent leading candidate.

Should the Orioles decide to hire Johnson, the Cincinnati Reds insisted on receiving a player in compensation for letting him out of the remainder of his contract, which expires Dec. 31.

The player, however, is not of a high enough caliber that it would keep the Orioles from hiring Johnson if they decide he is the most desirable candidate, according to a club official.

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