GM: Return of Johnson only 50-50 Gillick says Angelos, Orioles manager have 'matters' to discuss

'Air has to be cleared'

Owner may be unfazed by players' support

October 23, 1997|By Joe Strauss and Ken Rosenthal | Joe Strauss and Ken Rosenthal,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Citing the lingering discontent of owner Peter Angelos, Orioles general manager Pat Gillick said last night that he believes there is only a 50-50 chance Davey Johnson will return to manage the team next season.

"I would think there are some matters issues that have to be discussed. Those issues are between the owner and Davey," Gillick said.

Gillick, attending the World Series with Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone, told a Canadian radio station yesterday afternoon that he believes Johnson has a break-even chance of returning. He later confirmed the comment.

Though Angelos had said Oct. 5 that Johnson would be allowed to serve the final year of a three-year, $2.25 million contract, the owner has since adopted a noncommittal posture.

Angelos is known to be disturbed by the team's six-game loss to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series and has taken the matter under review.

He was expected to meet with Johnson shortly after the season. However, Angelos said earlier this week that he hasn't scheduled a meeting with his manager.

Last night, reached at his home in Baltimore, Angelos said, "I'm sure we'll talk at some point. When and where, I don't know. That's a matter for another day."

With Johnson in limbo, the club has yet to renew the contracts of its coaching staff.

Pitching coach Ray Miller and hitting coaching Rick Down are signed through next season, but the contracts of Andy Etchebarren (bench), John Stearns (first base), Sam Perlozzo (third base) and Elrod Hendricks (bullpen) expire at the end of this month.

Gillick gave Johnson his support last Thursday, one day after the club was eliminated. He cited the team's regular-season performance and the improved relationships Johnson had forged with many veteran players.

Many of those veterans, including Cal Ripken, Randy Myers, Brady Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro, have publicly voiced support for Johnson.

Angelos apparently is unswayed.

"Kevin and I are optimistic," Gillick said last night. "Anytime you don't go as far as you'd like to go, there's always some disappointment on everyone's part -- the players, the manager, certainly management and ownership.

"There are some different issues. The air has to be cleared before you go forward. There are probably some things on the minds of Davey and Mr. Angelos."

Johnson has steadfastly declined to comment regarding his job security the past two months. In July, he had said that if the team didn't get to the World Series, he wouldn't feel comfortable about his prospects for managing the club in 1998.

"Davey said he wasn't coming back, so go ask him. But he said that last year, too," Angelos said last night.

Club sources insist Angelos remains livid over Johnson's handling of second baseman Roberto Alomar's unexcused absence from a July exhibition game in Rochester, N.Y.

Johnson fined Alomar $10,500 for not accompanying the team on the day trip and for missing an April team function.

Angelos maintains the fine should have first been authorized by him and the front office. The fine will not be enforced, according to club and Major League Baseball Players Association sources.

The Sporting News, in a vote of his fellow managers, named Johnson its Major League Manager of the Year on Tuesday in recognition of the Orioles going wire-to-wire to win the AL East.

Johnson leads all active managers in winning percentage (.575) and has taken the Orioles to the ALCS in each of his two years as manager.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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