Graham to act as coordinator for Orioles

Expected first base coach to perform duties off-field

February 18, 2000|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Brian Graham, who accompanied manager Mike Hargrove from Cleveland with the expectation of being the Orioles' first base coach, instead will fill the newly created position of offensive/defensive coordinator.

Graham is part of a revamped staff that includes seven coaches, one past the number allowed by Major League Baseball. He will be in uniform only for pre-game drills, then will sit in the press box while serving as an eye in the sky.

Eddie Murray, former manager Ray Miller's bench coach the past two seasons, will be the Orioles' first base coach. Jeff Newman, who also came over from Cleveland, replaces Murray in the dugout.

Sammy Ellis has taken over as pitching coach for Bruce Kison, who was given a special assignment position within the organization. Terry Crowley (hitting), Sam Perlozzo (third base) and Elrod Hendricks (bullpen) are the only holdovers from last season who will keep the same duties.

When Hargrove announced his staff in November, he listed Graham as first base coach, the same position he held with the Indians. But those plans started to change about three weeks ago, when Hargrove began "matching responsibilities and duties with people's strengths."

"I know Brian very well. I know what kind of a baseball person he is," Hargrove said. "I felt his strengths at this time suited this job. He's very intelligent, very well-spoken. He understands the game. He's maybe one of the better baseball people I've ever been around. It was a round peg in a round hole."

Graham said he was told about the club's plans for him about 10 days ago.

"I had time to think about it. I've been a major-league first base coach, but I think this position will help me advance my position, also. I want to manage in the big leagues at some point, and I think this is just another step toward me getting that opportunity," he said.

"We kicked around the idea of trying to figure out what we can do to make our ballclub better. We're trying to be innovative."

Graham's main task will be coordinating the scouting reports on opponents provided by club personnel, then meeting with Ellis and Murray to decide how to play each hitter and relaying that information to the club during pre-game meetings. The Orioles won't be allowed to communicate with Graham during games, but he'll meet with the staff afterward. He also will coordinate the offensive and defensive instruction throughout the season.

"I have a tremendous amount of responsibility. This is certainly not a fly-by-night job," Graham said.

"Buck Showalter did it with the Yankees a few years ago, and the following year Buck Showalter became a manager. I'm certainly not saying that's going to happen to me, but the track record is good."

Murray will continue to be in charge of the outfield defense, including the aligning of players during games. Perlozzo will remain in charge of the infielders and the base runners.

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