Murray accepts job with Indians

He leaves O's, is named Cleveland hitting coach

November 15, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Citing a desire for greater opportunity and responsibility, Orioles first-base coach and future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray formally accepted a position yesterday as Cleveland Indians hitting coach.

"There's a chance to have a bigger role here," Murray said during an afternoon news conference held in the Indians' Jacobs Field executive offices. "In Baltimore, I didn't get to work with the hitters; we had a fine hitting coach in Terry Crowley."

The Orioles announced earlier this month an intention to bring back their entire coaching staff, including Murray, but had yet to tender new contracts to him, third-base coach Tom Trebelhorn and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks, the only coaches still unsigned for next season. Murray became an immediate target of Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, who recently succeeded John Hart. Shapiro received permission from the Orioles to interview Murray and offered him the job on Tuesday.

"You can't be selfish when a player has a desire in his heart to be something," said Orioles vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift. "That comes first as far as we're concerned."

Murray, one of six Orioles to have his number retired by the club, hit .294 with 343 home runs and 1,224 RBIs during 13 seasons with the franchise. He retired after the 1997 season as one of only three players to amass 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. A seven-time Most Valuable Oriole and three-time Gold Glove winner, Murray was also an eight-time All-Star and five times led the Orioles in average, home runs and RBI for a season. The Orioles officially retired his No. 33 on June 7, 1998.

Murray returned to the Orioles as a coach after ending his playing career in 1997. He served as bench coach during Ray Miller's managerial term in 1998-99 before relocating to the first-base coach's box under current manager Mike Hargrove.

A managerial aspirant, Murray interviewed for the post vacated by Miller in October 1999. He also managed the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League after the 2000 season.

"I knew that he worked hard and really liked what he was doing. I think he got more frustrated with the players more than he did himself or his role," Thrift said. "I think he was frustrated by them not being as dedicated and committed as he was."

Though Murray is most closely identified with the Orioles, his move represents another sort of homecoming. Murray played for the Indians from 1994 to '96 before being traded to the Orioles in time to hit his 500th home run at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1996.

Indians manager Charlie Manuel served as hitting coach during Murray's stay there; Shapiro is the son of Murray's longtime agent, Ron Shapiro.

"I always thought Eddie would stay in the game after he retired as a player," Manuel said. "I lockered next to him for a couple years here and he was always talking about the game, about hitting. There's a side to Eddie that the media doesn't see."

Murray remained close to many in the Indians' organization, even visiting their clubhouse last April.

"I know some of the veterans on this club, and I know some of the young guys saw me invade their locker room last year," Murray said. "They may think that's weird, but then they might think that's a good thing ... that this guy is a little bit different."

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