Jeff Torborg comes to the plate today in the ninth inning of the first round of interviews in the Orioles' managerial search.
Torborg, a three-time major-league manager and the ninth candidate interviewed for the vacancy created when Johnny Oates was fired 11 days ago, is the last person scheduled for an interview.
After talking with Torborg, the Orioles' panel of four -- general manager Roland Hemond, assistant GM Frank Robinson, attorney Russell Smouse and vice chairman of business and finance Joe Foss -- will begin working on a short list they will present to majority owner Peter Angelos.
"What we'll try to do is get a shortened-down list that we'll get to Peter over the weekend or more likely early next week," Foss said. "He'll ask questions about people on the list or not on the list. [Finalists] will come in for second interviews and visit with Peter. From a time point-of-view, we could name a manager at the end of next week at the earliest. More likely, the following week would be a more plausible scenario."
The Orioles' timetable does not clash with that of Oakland Athletics manager Tony La Russa, who arrives back in California the middle of next week from a European vacation.
La Russa, still under contract with the A's, plans to meet with Oakland officials, who will try to sign him to an extension before granting permission to either the Boston Red Sox or Orioles to talk to him.
The Orioles continue to proceed under the assumption La Russa will not become available.
Oakland president Sandy Alderson clarified La Russa's contract status yesterday.
"His contract expires on Dec. 31 as a technical matter," Alderson said. "We don't intend to hold him to his contract if he decides not to return. Until that decision is made, we have denied and will continue to deny permission to any other club to talk to Tony.
"He's not returning until [Wednesday]. We have reason to be confident in the sense that he's got a good situation. He's very loyal to our owner and there are organizational challenges to be met here as well as elsewhere.
"On the other hand, sometimes people need a change and find other challenges more interesting and novel than the ones they face in current situations. We'll just have to see how our discussions go."
Reports out of St. Louis indicate that Cardinals president Mark Lamping is interested in talking to La Russa about a general manager/manager job.
Torborg follows, in order of their interviews, Rick Dempsey, Davey Lopes, Bill Virdon, Phil Regan, Elrod Hendricks, Buck Rodgers, Chris Chambliss and Davey Johnson.
Hemond, working in professional baseball since 1951 and a three-time winner of the Executive of the Year award, never has been involved in such an extensive managerial search.
"My experience in the past has been knowing who you were going to hire and not necessarily doing a series of interviews," Hemond said. "That was probably the case in baseball in the past in most situations. This is a better way to do it."