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 are expected today to name former Cleveland Indians skipper Mike Hargrove as their next manager, ending a 28-day search 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 five consecutive division titles and two trips to the World Series in the last five seasons. Hargrove, 50, would become the Orioles' fifth manager during Angelos' six-year stewardship of the franchise.

Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said last night that no news conference had yet 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 franchise's thorough 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 a five-man advisory committee offered a split recommendation to Angelos after interviewing a strong cast that included former Chicago Cubs manager Jim Riggleman and former Kansas City Royals manager Hal McRae.

Cincinnati Reds bench coach Ken Griffey, Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen coach Rick Dempsey, Orioles first base coach Marv Foley and Orioles bench coach Eddie Murray also interviewed with the committee. An early desire to include former Atlanta Braves hitting coach Don Baylor dissolved after the Cubs aggressively pursued him. Baylor was formally named their manager on Monday.

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

Little became the final candidate to interview with Angelos Monday, making "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 director of player personnel and de facto general manager Syd Thrift, Little has received much more than cursory consideration. Before receiving his ouster, 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 the day after Wren was fired.

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

"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 [managing] 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."

While Little previously interviewed for managerial vacancies in Boston, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee, the four-week process is a first for Perlozzo, considered among the game's best third base coaches as well as an outstanding teacher. His resume includes time spent working under Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella. With Miller, Perlozzo also served as infield and base-running coach and organized the team's training camp.

"Until I'm eliminated, I'm not eliminated," Perlozzo said last night from his Cumberland home. "Until the man tells me I don't have the job, I'm going to stay positive and hope that he takes me. If that's not the case, I'll deal with what happens. It's not the end of the world. I'll go on and solve the next problem."

Perlozzo has enjoyed strong internal support. His working relationship with several veterans, including third baseman Cal Ripken, is viewed as a significant positive. Though the shape of Hargrove's staff remains vague, Perlozzo is thought to be a candidate.

If not, he has been approached by Tampa Bay and Seattle since his coaching contract expired Sunday. Perlozzo was the first candidate to receive a face-to-face interview with Angelos and, according to club sources, has received the backing of several Angelos confidants.

"I would love to stay here; it's home," said Perlozzo. "It's always been my dream to be in Baltimore. I would hope if I didn't get the job whoever did would retain me. I don't think Peter can make a bad choice."

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