Hargrove, Little make O's final cut

Ex-Indians manager, Red Sox coach merit strong consideration

Midweek decision possible

`Internal' candidate also receives backing

October 29, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Still gaining momentum, the Orioles' 23-day-old managerial search will extend into next week with former Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove, Boston Red Sox bench coach Grady Little and at least one "internal" candidate receiving strong consideration from a five-man advisory committee charged with making a recommendation to owner Peter Angelos.

Angelos likely will wait until midweek to name a manager, according to industry and club sources, after first speaking with as many as three finalists.

The advisory committee has not convened since last weekend because of obligations associated with the World Series. But executive vice president John Angelos, chairman's representative Louis Angelos, director of player personnel and de facto general manager Syd Thrift, director of player development Tom Trebelhorn and director of scouting Tony DeMacio intend to make what could be a split recommendation to Angelos as early as Sunday.

Several members of the committee left New York yesterday without scheduling an interview with Atlanta Braves hitting coach Don Baylor, once considered an attractive possibility but now believed ready to become the Chicago Cubs' manager. Having also interviewed with the Indians and Milwaukee Brewers, Baylor has told associates he has little interest in the Orioles' vacancy.

Hargrove, who reiterated last night that he is "very interested," has notified the committee that he is scheduled to begin a vacation next Thursday. Little has not been scheduled for a second interview, nor have Orioles third base coach Sam Perlozzo and first base coach Marv Foley.

The nuances of the process slightly differ from last October's search for a general manager. Then, a screening committee of chief operating officer Joe Foss, John Angelos and chief counsel Russell Smouse interviewed five candidates.

All were then summoned to interview before Peter Angelos. Cincinnati Reds general manager Jim Bowden removed himself from consideration before returning to Baltimore. Wren, Chicago White Sox assistant GM Dan Evans, Atlanta Braves assistant GM Dean Taylor and Cleveland Indians assistant GM Dan O'Dowd met with the Orioles' chairman. Wren was named on Oct. 23, two days after the end of the World Series.

Angelos does not intend to meet with each of the nine managerial candidates. Indeed, he may meet with only one candidate if given a unanimous recommendation by the committee.

Stopping short of establishing a deadline, Foss said earlier this month that it was "not unlikely" a successor to Ray Miller could be found by Oct. 31. That projection will not be met, according to sources familiar with the process, but the committee intends to forward its recommendation to Angelos no later than Monday.

Perlozzo and Foley already have interviewed before the committee and the majority owner. Hargrove and Little have spoken only with the committee.

A source familiar with the situation said the Orioles are speaking with a Hargrove intermediary, while the club has inquired with Little about clearing space next week for a possible meeting with Angelos. A Cumberland resident, Perlozzo is within a 2 1/2-hour drive if necessary.

Rather than wait for the committee's recommendation, Angelos has begun to independently inquire about the candidates, especially Hargrove. Angelos was flayed for two years after promoting Miller from pitching coach to manager, so Hargrove carries significant appeal as a proven commodity. The Indians captured five consecutive American League Central titles before he was fired Oct. 15.

Little apparently enjoys the backing of Thrift, Angelos' most trusted lieutenant within baseball operations. Like many, Thrift has long been impressed with Little's resume, which includes a glowing term in the Braves' player development system. Little also has proved himself capable of communicating with major-league players as both Red Sox bench coach and San Diego Padres bullpen coach.

The Orioles aren't the only ones interested in Little, as the Brewers interviewed him for their vacant position last week. Taylor, another Braves alumnus, now serves as Brewers general manager. Little previously has interviewed for managing jobs with Boston and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

A source familiar with the search said Angelos could meet with as many as four finalists but that is believed unlikely.

Orioles bench coach Eddie Murray, former Cubs and Padres manager Jim Riggleman, Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen coach Rick Dempsey, Cincinnati Reds bench coach Ken Griffey and Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach and former Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae have interviewed as well, though not all appeared before the full committee.

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