O's get conditional OK to talk to Padres' Smith Hiring of GM would put San Diego employees off limits for two years

October 05, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

The Orioles have received permission to interview San Diego Padres general manager Randy Smith as a candidate to replace Roland Hemond.

Padres CEO Larry Lucchino granted permission, twice requested by Orioles owner Peter Angelos, with the following stipulation: If Smith becomes general manager, he cannot hire any San Diego employee for a period of two years.

Smith said last night, "I haven't heard from anybody, not from Larry or Peter. Until I have, I don't think it's appropriate to comment about a job held by somebody else."

That somebody else would be Hemond, who met with Angelos yesterday. Angelos called the meeting "very productive. We reviewed the season and the players, and what Roland believes needs to be done in the future, which is helpful.

"By the time the [World] Series is over, we'll have answers [about the front office], which is the best thing for all the people involved. They need to know what's happening so they can make decisions for themselves."

Smith, 32, made a decision to resign as the Padres' general manager last week, and since then he has wrangled with Lucchino over the terms of his departure -- one of which was how many employees Smith could take with him to his next job.

"It's one of a number of issues we're trying to resolve," Lucchino said yesterday. "There's always some movement in a situation like this. Cronyism is a part of baseball. You try to anticipate it and control it."

Smith said that agreeing to restrictions might make him less attractive to potential suitors. "Any GM job in baseball is not a one-man show," he said. "I'd have baggage [not being able to hire a particular group of executives, scouts and coaches]. I'm concerned I wouldn't be as attractive a candidate without baggage. That doesn't mean, though, that I don't have confidence in my own ability in any situation."

Hemond, who expects to have more meetings with Angelos, could have a place to land if the Orioles cut him loose. A Montreal official said last night he expects the Expos will seek permission to interview Hemond to replace Kevin Malone; Hemond's ability to speak French would be considered a major asset in that city.

The Expos eventually want to promote Fred Ferreira, their director of international scouting, but don't think he's ready to assume a major role. Hemond could be hired to run the team for several years, and serve as a mentor for Ferreira.

If the Orioles do make a pitch for Oakland manager Tony La Russa, as well, they'll have competition. St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty contacted La Russa on Monday, the first day in which La Russa could talk freely with other clubs.

"[Jocketty] wants La Russa," said an NL source, "and it's a good fit in a lot of ways. They know each other from working together in Oakland, and St. Louis is a good baseball town."

On the other hand, La Russa has told friends he would prefer to remain in the AL, and Oakland officials do not expect La Russa to return for next season. (The leading candidate to replace him in Oakland is infield coach and former Athletics third baseman Carney Lansford).

The Orioles asked for permission to talk to La Russa last year, and it's expected that before they make a final decision on whether to keep manager Phil Regan, they will call La Russa.

Angelos met with Regan Tuesday evening, Hemond yesterday, and neither was given any sort of indication what their future with the organization will be, or whether they have any immediate future. Angelos said he wants to get a solid read on the state of the club before making any decisions.

Whoever the Orioles' general manager will be, he might follow up on some cursory discussions that began in September with the Detroit Tigers, about a deal involving outfielder Mark Smith for pitcher Jose Lima. The right-hander pitched effectively in his last five starts -- seven earned runs in 28 innings -- although he generally struggled, going 3-9 with a 6.11 ERA.

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