Hargrove appears O's choice

Ex-Indians skipper expected to come here today as new manager

Source: `Excellent' chance

Little very impressive

Perlozzo wants to stay

November 03, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The Orioles' intense four-week search for a manager is expected to culminate today in the naming of former Cleveland Indians skipper Mike Hargrove, ending a process that involved nine candidates and a spirited internal debate over whether the successor to Ray Miller should be an organizational product, a talent with significant managerial experience in the major leagues or a rising star within the industry.

Majority owner Peter Angelos apparently has sided with Hargrove's impressive resume, which includes a 721-591 record, five consecutive division titles and two trips to the World Series in the last five seasons.

Hargrove, 50, would become the franchise's fifth manager during Angelos' six-year stewardship.

Orioles assistant director of media relations Bill Stetka said last night that no news conference had been scheduled. However, a source familiar with the situation said there was an "excellent" chance Hargrove would arrive today from his Richfield, Ohio, residence.

Hargrove is scheduled to begin a family vacation tomorrow. He interviewed with Angelos for 4 1/2 hours Sunday and left impressed with the owner and the process. On Monday, Hargrove said, "I came away feeling good. Hopefully, we'll get this done."

Hargrove sidestepped the issue last night, citing sensitive timing. "I really can't say anything about it," he said. "I don't know everything involved."

A verdict today would come less than a week after Angelos' five-man advisory committee offered a split recommendation. The group, comprised of executive vice president John Angelos; chairman's representative Louis Angelos; director of player personnel Syd Thrift; director of scouting Tony DeMacio and director of player development Tom Trebelhorn, interviewed a strong cast. Included were three former major-league managers (Hargrove, Jim Riggleman and Hal McRae), three members of Miller's coaching staff, Boston Red Sox bullpen coach Grady Little, Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen coach Rick Dempsey and Cincinnati Reds bench coach Ken Griffey.

An early desire to include former Atlanta Braves hitting coach Don Baylor dissolved after the Chicago Cubs aggressively pursued him. Baylor was formally named their manager on Monday.

Hargrove, Orioles third base coach Sam Perlozzo and Little emerged as finalists for the vacancy, created Oct. 6 when Angelos declined to assume the option on Miller's contract following a fourth-place, 78-84 season.

When the Orioles began their search for a manager, Hargrove was still employed by the Indians, who had roared to the postseason by again dominating the American League Central. However, Cleveland fumbled a two-game lead against the Red Sox in the Division Series and was unseated in five games. Hargrove still had a year remaining for $600,000 on his Indians contract.

Little became the final candidate to interview with Angelos on Monday and made a "a very positive impression," according to a club source. While Hargrove's discussion with Angelos lasted about 4 1/2 hours, Little said only, "I didn't sit in there watching a clock. It was more interesting than that. I will say I wasn't hungry when it started and I was hungry by the time I left."

Endorsed by Thrift, Little has received much more than cursory consideration. Before being fired Oct. 6, general manager Frank Wren pushed for Little if the club could not secure former Milwaukee Brewers manager Phil Garner. Garner was hired by the Detroit Tigers two days after Wren was fired.

Little also has interviewed with the Brewers and will likely be approached by Anaheim during its managerial search. Little has served as a Red Sox coach the last three seasons and was San Diego Padres bullpen coach in 1996.

Little's reputation grew exponentially during his time within the Braves' farm system. He shepherded prospects such as Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko and Javier Lopez through Double-A Greenville and Triple-A Richmond only to find himself stymied from joining the Atlanta staff.

"I told my wife there are 50 governors and only 30 major-league managers," quipped Little. "That tells you how difficult it is to get one of those jobs. It's a matter of finding the right match. If this is the one, great. If not, I'd like to think it will come down the road."

Little previously interviewed for managing jobs in Boston and Tampa Bay and is currently under consideration for the Brewers job.

The four-week process is a first for Perlozzo, considered among the game's top third base coaches as well as an outstanding teacher. Perlozzo has spent the last four seasons with the Orioles. His resume includes time under Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella. Perlozzo also served as infield and base-running coach and organized the team's training camp.

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