F. Robinson misses out on GM job Scouting director Towers is promoted by Padres

November 18, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson felt good about his chances of becoming general manager of the San Diego Padres. His interview last month went well, and he had a prior working relationship with Padres CEO Larry Lucchino, the former president of the Orioles.

But when Lucchino called Robinson late Thursday, he had bad news: The Padres had promoted scouting director Kevin Towers to the GM position, a surprise move.

"Last night I was informed by Larry that I would not be general manager of the Padres," Robinson said yesterday, when called for his reaction. "I'm going to California for a few days, and I might have something to say next week."

Robinson long has made it clear that he'd like to be a GM before retiring. When the Padres' job opened at the end of the season when Randy Smith resigned, Robinson seemed to be a perfect fit in many ways, beginning with his experience with Lucchino.

He was among the first candidates interviewed and was called )) back to meet Padres owner John Moores. Robinson appeared to emerge as a front-runner, along with Florida Marlins assistant GM Frank Wren, Padres' sources indicating that Robinson's interview with Lucchino went well.

But then came the twist. According to Wren, Lucchino offered him a two-year contract, a relatively short term for a GM. Wren wanted three years. Lucchino, Wren said, wouldn't budge.

Lucchino said yesterday that a formal offer was never made, calling the discrepancy of facts "a misunderstanding."

Nevertheless, Lucchino and Moores called Towers back from the GM meetings in Arizona on Thursday and offered him the job. Lucchino said yesterday that Towers had all the abilities he wanted in a GM, including experience as a talent evaluator.

Robinson's contract with the Orioles expires Dec. 31, and he is not a candidate to replace Roland Hemond as Baltimore's GM. One of the last in the organization hired under Edward Bennett Williams, his influence in the organization has diminished; one of his primary responsibilities last summer was to work in uniform as a hitting instructor.

He has not been involved in the Orioles' search for a GM. Farm director Syd Thrift represented the Orioles at the Arizona general manager meetings.

Last spring, Lucchino offered Robinson a job as special assistant in the Padres' organization, and a similar offer may be forthcoming, though Robinson indicated yesterday that has not occurred.

The Orioles' GM search likely will end before Thanksgiving, according to a high-ranking AL official. Former Montreal GM Kevin Malone, ex-Detroit Tigers GM Joe Klein and former New York Mets scouting director John Barr appear to be the finalists.

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