Miller takes over as O's manager Ex-pitching coach receives 2-year deal worth $1.4 million

He's link to 'Oriole Way'

Flanagan joins staff

3 coaches retained

November 12, 1997|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

A link to the organization's most successful era, Ray Miller was introduced yesterday as the 13th manager in Orioles history and insisted that his way, the Oriole Way and the Peter Angelos Way can be and, indeed, will be compatible.

His hiring considered a near-certainty since Friday, Miller inherited the American League East champions less than one week after Davey Johnson resigned as manager. Miller received a guaranteed two-year contract worth about $1.4 million and an option for 2000 as well as the expectations that accompany a $60 million payroll and consecutive trips to the AL Championship Series.

Rather than speak of change, Miller used a lengthy afternoon news conference to speak more of continuity.

"I'm looking forward to continuing what has been started here. I know we have a talented club that carries a lot of expectations. I've got no problem with that. I prefer it that way," said Miller, the team's pitching coach in 1997.

Miller's hiring ends a tumultuous week in which his predecessor exchanged verbal volleys with the club's owner and eventually resigned after failing to get a contract extension. It is hoped that Miller can maintain the club's on-field success while bringing about a more cohesive environment within the organization.

"I think it brings everything right back into focus," said assistant general manager Kevin Malone. "I feel for the fans. I feel their frustration. They felt that Davey was the best manager and [responsible] for what we accomplished. I consider this a step forward."

Orioles owner Angelos could not be reached.

Miller said he never campaigned for the job, but first thought it a possibility when Johnson phoned to tell him of his pending resignation last Wednesday.

Under Johnson, the Orioles again tried to return to the "Oriole Way," a disciplined form of instruction and technique that served the organization well for much of two decades. During yesterday's news conference, Malone described the transition from Johnson to Miller as "more of an adjustment than a change."

Miller, whose contract as a coach ran through 1998, sounded uneasy over what importing a manager might have meant.

"The reason that I said I would be a candidate for the job was that I was very, very concerned that it would be turned over to somebody else and changes would be made," Miller said. "This is a veteran club, a very good club, a club with a chance to win and a club that was only within a couple pitches or a couple calls of being in the World Series. And I think we can go right back to that situation."

To do so, Miller will keep hitting coach Rick Down, bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks and third base coach Sam Perlozzo. Down and Perlozzo have been offered extensions through 1999, according to a club source. Andy Etchebarren and John Stearns, Johnson's bench coach and first base coach, respectively, will be reassigned within the organization if they choose to remain. Etchebarren is under consideration to manage the club's Rookie League affiliate in Bluefield, W. Va.

Miller said the rest of his coaching staff should be named within the next week. It is believed longtime Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Carlos Bernhardt will be promoted as an outfield coach. Former Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray, technically considered a free-agent player, has been approached about returning as a first base coach. Miller also persuaded television analyst Mike Flanagan to return as pitching coach. Flanagan served under Phil Regan in 1995, was replaced by Pat Dobson in 1996 but served as a de facto consultant to Miller last season.

Flanagan wavered, but was persuaded yesterday morning by Miller and the offer of a two-year guarantee.

"I probably would not have considered any other place," said Flanagan, who won the 1979 AL Cy Young Award with Miller as his pitching coach.

A Takoma Park native, Miller, 52, served as Orioles pitching coach from 1978 to 1985, overseeing two Cy Young Award winners and five different 20-game winners. He left the organization in 1985 to manage the Minnesota Twins for parts of two seasons that produced a 109-130 record. After spending 10 years as Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach, Miller returned to the Orioles this year and helped transform an underachieving staff into one of the game's most respected.

Angelos, a strong supporter of Miller's hiring last winter, became an even stronger advocate during the past season.

Because of the incendiary relationship Angelos shared with Johnson, Miller's ability to work with ownership will be scrutinized. He is the Orioles' fourth manager since Angelos purchased the club in 1993.

"I think stability in this organization comes from communication, and I think I have the ability to communicate with ownership and the club," said Miller. "Mr. Angelos doesn't tell me who to play and who not to play. He simply wants to know what's going on. I plan to guarantee that."

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