Padres string along GM Smith, Orioles Lucchino won't grant resignation 'til Oct. 31

October 03, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

If the Orioles want to interview San Diego Padres general manager Randy Smith, a possible candidate to replace current GM Roland Hemond, with no strings attached, they may have to wait until Nov. 1.

Smith turned in a letter of resignation to Padres CEO Larry Lucchino last week. But while Lucchino announced yesterday that Smith will not be the team's GM in 1996, he did not accept Smith's resignation, meaning that Smith remains under contract to the Padres until the end of this month.

If the Orioles -- who in the past have twice sought permission to interview Smith -- or any other team wants to talk to Smith for the next 30 days, they first must receive permission from Lucchino. The CEO also has the option of demanding compensation if another team wants to hire Smith, who clearly was unhappy with Lucchino's course of action.

"I don't understand," said Smith, who met with Lucchino over lunch yesterday. "I'd like to get this thing resolved. I guess I'm still the general manager of the Padres. . . . I thought this would be a simple divorce."

Hardly. After Smith turned in his resignation, basically citing irreconcilable differences with Lucchino, CEO and owner John Moores had attempted to persuade Smith to stay. Padres star Tony Gwynn slammed Lucchino to local reporters, saying he wanted to play every role from president to batboy.

While the Padres' front-office situation has come to a head, the Orioles appear to be in no hurry to resolve the status of Hemond. No meeting has been scheduled between Hemond -- whose contract also expires Oct. 31 -- and owner Peter Angelos, although one is expected by the end of the week.

Kevin Malone resigned his position as general manager of the Montreal Expos and, if Hemond is fired, Malone is expected to be among those interviewed by the Orioles.

Interestingly, the rumor mill in Montreal has Hemond and departing Detroit GM Joe Klein as two possible candidates to replace Malone, because owner Claude Brochu may want a fiscally prudent executive to manage his small payroll, and simultaneously groom a protege to take over as GM a few years down the road.

Angelos, in all likelihood, will meet today with manager Phil Regan to discuss the Orioles' 1995 season -- what could've been, what could be. No matter how Regan fares, it figures that Angelos or another Orioles official will attempt to contact Oakland manager Tony La Russa, who has nine more days to field other offers and void the last year of his A's contract.

La Russa met with new Oakland owner Steve Schott yesterday to discuss his status, and afterward, he said he'll talk to any and all clubs interested in hiring him. "We discussed the situation," La Russa said, "and I've agreed to weigh my options."

Hiring La Russa would be expensive; his current contract calls for a 1996 salary of $1.25 million, or about four times what Regan is paid. And hiring La Russa would mean massive turnover in the coaching ranks, for he likely would want to bring along most of his coaching staff, including pitching coach Dave Duncan.

The Orioles asked for permission to talk to La Russa last year, who re-signed with Oakland before any interview.

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