Down draws interest from Angels O's hitting instructor a candidate for manager

Orioles Notebook

August 11, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO -- Orioles hitting coach Rick Down reportedly is one of many candidates to become manager of the California Angels, in the wake of Marcel Lachemann's resignation.

Interim manager John McNamara is expected to run the Angels the rest of the year, and even if Down is interviewed, it probably won't be until after the season. But Down said yesterday he is interested.

"Yeah, I'd like to manage. I came here to watch Mr. Johnson," said Down, pointing at Davey Johnson sitting nearby. "That'll help me get a different perspective."

Down was the hitting coach of the New York Yankees before coming to the Orioles, and he could've received a multi-year deal to be a hitting instructor of the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, who begin play in 1998. But he wanted to go somewhere and be immediately active in the majors, to improve his chances of managing.

"I could've spent seven years in Arizona," said Down. "They call it the Diamondbacks. It would've been the Outbacks for me."

Down prefers the situation, as it exists, for him to become manager of the Angels. He knows Lachemann well, but isn't a member of the California staff and wouldn't have to fight the awkward feelings of replacing somebody who hired him.

"I don't think anything's going to happen until the end of the season," said Down. "I would think they're going to take their time going through the interview process.

"Disney would want a good baseball person, and someone with a little charisma, someone who would be an ambassador for baseball."

Down likes what he sees in the Angels. "They've got a nucleus of an awful lot of good young players," he said. "[Jim] Edmonds, [Tim] Salmon, [J.T.] Snow. You look at what they did last year [78-67, second in the AL West], and it's pretty impressive.

"They've got the makings of a very competitive ballclub. They've got a premier closer in [Troy] Percival. [Mike] James is an outstanding set-up man. . . . Really, they don't have many holes they have to fill. Just pitching -- they'll do something with they're pitching. Their defense is outstanding, and they've got a stabilizing force in Chili Davis."

If the Angels want to talk to Down, they must first ask the Orioles for permission.

Steals coming off pitchers

The White Sox ran aggressively on the Orioles in the first game of the series, stealing four bases. Even Harold Baines stole second, bad knees and all.

But Johnson said the blame does not necessarily fall on catcher Chris Hoiles, who does not throw well because of an arthritic condition in his shoulder. "Two times, they didn't steal off Hoiles," Johnson said. "They stole off [pitcher David Wells]. He's got a high leg kick, and they were breaking on first movement [by Wells].

"We can hold runners better than we do. But we can do a lot of little things better. We're not very good at keeping [opponents] from getting the cheap run. We have certain pitchers who are easy to run on."

Sore leg keeps Anderson out

Brady Anderson limped into the Orioles' clubhouse yesterday, his right leg sore from the strain behind his right shin. "It feels sore," said Anderson.

Johnson guessed Anderson could be out of the lineup for two or three games. "He's having trouble walking," Johnson said. "Hopefully, he won't be out very long, but it's not the kind of injury you want to fool around with."

Johnson was asked if he toyed with different ways of getting Anderson's bat in the lineup, such as starting Anderson at designated hitter, Eddie Murray at first base and Rafael Palmeiro in the outfield, where Palmeiro has played before.

"No, you'd be weakening yourself in a couple of positions that way," Johnson said. "If a guy can't run, how in the heck can he be a designated hitter? You're flirting with danger when you play a guy with a bad leg. You could end up losing him for three weeks. That's a gamble you take the last week of the season, not in early August."

Around the horn

Johnson intends to stick with a four-man rotation, as long as none of the four starters -- Mike Mussina, Wells, Scott Erickson and Rocky Coppinger -- suffers from the diminished rest. "If any of the four starters has a major drop-off in stuff we can't do it," Johnson said. . . . Roberto Alomar hurt his foot fielding a ball Friday night, and Johnson conceded that Alomar's "not 100 percent." You could hardly tell that last night; Alomar went 3-for-5 with a single, double and his 17th home run of the season. . . . The Orioles have hit at least two homers in eight straight games. During that span, they have hit 21 homers. The club record for consecutive multi-homer games is nine, set May 8-16, 1987.

Hits and misses

On the field: When Mike Devereaux added a bases-empty homer in the ninth inning, it extended the Orioles' string of hitting at least three homers per game to six straight. Roberto Alomar and Eddie Murray also homered.

In the dugout: In the first inning, the Orioles maintained their strategy of refusing to pitch to White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas, walking the slugger for the fifth time in his first six plate appearances in this series. Later, however, Mike Mussina threw Thomas a strike and Thomas ripped it over second for an RBI.

In the clubhouse: Orioles manager Davey Johnson was asked about the possibility the labor talks could break down, and sometime down the road, replacement baseball might return. "I don't even like to talk about that," Johnson said. "I don't even want to think about that as a possibility."

Pub Date: 8/11/96

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