The Orioles have yet to formally announce the hiring of Ray Miller as the club's new manager, but he is on his way back to Baltimore and club officials already are beginning to piece together the coaching staff that will work under him in 1998.
Miller could be installed officially as early as this afternoon, according to a high-ranking club source.
He has been summoned to Baltimore from his Ohio home to meet with front-office officials, apparently to work out the details of his new contract and discuss the makeup of the coaching staff.
General manager Pat Gillick was returning from a trip to California yesterday and assistant GM Kevin Malone was en route from Arizona to take part in meetings with Miller, so neither was available for comment.
"I'm hoping," Miller said last night. "It would be such a great opportunity. This is such a great team, I guess I'd just hate to see anyone else come in and change it."
There will be some changes, of course, but much of the 1997 coaching staff will remain intact.
Management sources indicated yesterday that third base coach Sam Perlozzo probably will be retained -- subject to Miller's approval -- but that dugout coach Andy Etchebarren likely will be reassigned to a minor-league coaching or managing position and that first base coach John Stearns probably won't return.
No decision has been announced on the status of hitting coach Rick Down, but Down likely will remain in his current capacity unless he is hired away for one of the remaining major-league managerial vacancies.
Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, who has continuously been in an Orioles uniform longer than anyone else in the organization, also is expected to be back next season.
The club will have at least two coaching vacancies, which may open the way for former Orioles pitching coach and Miller protege Mike Flanagan to get back in uniform, and could mean a promotion for part-time coach and Latin American liaison Carlos Bernhardt.
Team officials are waiting to complete the staff because they do not want to give the impression that a coaching staff will be imposed on the new manager. Miller will have a hand in determining the final makeup of the staff, but he apparently is not eager to make sweeping changes in the aftermath of two consecutive trips to the American League Championship Series.
If it appears the club is putting the cart before the horse, it is only because club officials need time to rewrite the multi-year contract that Miller signed last winter before announcing that he jTC will be the club's next manager.
The decision to hire him apparently was made soon after former manager Davey Johnson submitted his resignation by fax on Wednesday.
Down also was considered initially, but owner Peter Angelos was so impressed with the job that Miller did handling the pitching staff that there was relatively little debate on the issue.
The club needs to put Miller in place and move on to other pressing personnel matters, including negotiations with free-agent outfielder Brady Anderson, who is expected back from a European vacation this week.
Anderson still hopes to come to terms with the club, but there appears to be a wide gulf between his value on the open market and what the Orioles hope to pay to keep him in Baltimore for the next three or four seasons.
Gillick and Malone have returned to Baltimore for the presumed managerial announcement, but will soon head west again to take part in this week's general managers' meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the expansion draft -- also being held in the Phoenix area -- next Tuesday.
Pub Date: 11/10/97