On rebound, Oates pulls down Rangers job

October 20, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

It has been a good week for managers who lost their jobs during baseball's early firing period.

Johnny Oates didn't bounce back quite as quickly as the man he replaced, but it was no surprise when he was introduced yesterday as the new manager of the Texas Rangers. His appointment came one day after Kevin Kennedy, let go by the Rangers only six days earlier, was named to replace Butch Hobson as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Fired by the Orioles on Sept. 26, Oates was without a job for three weeks before being picked by the Rangers. His selection was made by Texas general manager Doug Melvin, the former Orioles assistant GM who has been in his new job 10 days.

From the time he took the job, Melvin let it be known that he had considerable interest in teaming with Oates for the third time. Melvin was with the New York Yankees organization the two years Oates managed in their farm system and was instrumental in his hiring by the Orioles almost seven years ago.

"These guys [Rangers officials] knocked my socks off; they've been great," said Oates, who was given a two-year contract. "I'm very happy and looking forward to a new city, new expectations and new enthusiasm."

And Oates said that his quick rebound to another job did not give him a sense of vindication.

"I mean this very sincerely: I am not at all bitter about the Baltimore situation," he said. "As I was going through things last year -- and I wouldn't want to have to go through that every year -- I'm thankful for what that year did for me. It made me grow, it challenged me, I think it made me a stronger person. I think it helped me with whatever it takes to be a big-league manager.

"I don't have any resentment about what happened in Baltimore. I felt good about it the whole time [he was unemployed]. All along, I felt something good would come from it. I thought it could be the best thing for me and now -- after the fact -- I can say I know it," said Oates.

Melvin had firsthand knowledge of the trying year Oates had with the Orioles last season, but it didn't deter him. He had planned to interview Phil Regan before the Orioles hired him, but indicated he was leaning toward Oates all along.

"The last four managers this team has had [Doug Rader, Bobby Valentine, Toby Harrah and Kennedy] all came here without major-league managing experience," said Melvin. "The more I looked at our club, the more I was convinced it needed someone with experience and a winning attitude.

"He's got the best winning percentage of anybody out there [who was available], and the only year he's ever had a losing record was the year he took over the Orioles in mid season. I had a list of about 12 names, and I think a lot of them will be good managers, but they didn't have the experience.

"I called [former Orioles coach] Jerry Narron and told him that as much as I thought of him, this wasn't the right time or the right place. As much as I respect him, if I was going to tell him that, I wasn't going to seriously consider others in the same situation."

Melvin said he decided not to interview Buddy Bell and Dave Duncan for that reason. "I didn't think it would be fair to bring people in for interviews if they weren't going to have a chance for the job," he said.

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond said he was not surprised by yesterday's announcement.

"Johnny and Doug . . . worked together with the Yankees, and it was Doug who recommended Johnny for the Rochester job in 1988. They have a long association and make a good combination. I was happy to hear the good news," said Hemond.

Oates said of the Rangers: "Pitching and defense is something we have to address. You think about attitude, but I haven't been in the clubhouse, so I don't know anything about that."

He said he was not ready to make any commitments last night, but it is likely Oates will take some of his former coaches with him to Texas. Narron is his likely choice as third base coach, and pitching coach Dick Bosman, first base coach Davey Lopes (who came to the Orioles from the Rangers) and hitting coach Greg Biagini almost surely will be considered.

"Doug and I are going to sit down next week and discuss the staff," said Oates. "He has a list and I have a list, so a lot of the names will be familiar for one reason or another."

CHANGING TIMES

@4

The managerial changes so far this off-season:

Fired .. .. .. .. Team .. .. .. Hired

.. .. .. .. .. .. Orioles

Johnny Oates . .. .. . .. .. .. Phil Regan

.. .. .. .. .. .. Boston

Butch Hobson . .. .. . .. .. .. Kevin Kennedy

.. .. .. .. .. .. Chicago Cubs

Tom Trebelhorn .. .. . .. .. .. TBA

.. .. .. .. .. .. Kansas City

Hal McRae . .. .. .. . .. .. .. Bob Boone

.. .. .. .. .. .. Texas

Kevin Kennedy ... .. . .. .. .. Johnny Oates

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