O's renew Leiper's link to Lynx as manager

Ottawa native's return is part of reorganization

Baseball

November 21, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

While the Orioles continue to move forward in their attempts to improve next year's team, they've also been busy reorganizing the minor league system by hiring a Triple-A manager, transferring staff members to different levels and eliminating a rookie-level affiliate.

Tim Leiper was named the Ottawa Lynx manager yesterday, returning to the franchise he guided in 2002 before spending last season in the Boston Red Sox's system. Leiper replaces Gary Allenson, who is pursuing a major league coaching job.

An Ottawa resident, Leiper went 80-61 in 2002 when the Lynx were affiliated with the Montreal Expos - the best record in club history. They qualified for the International League playoffs under Allenson last season as the wild card.

In a statement released by the Lynx, Leiper said: "I'm very excited to be back in Ottawa. I really appreciate the opportunity that the Baltimore Orioles have given me, and I am looking forward to another great season. To be able to return as the manager of the team in my home city makes this even more special."

Doc Rodgers, the Orioles' director of minor league operations, contacted the Red Sox last winter about Leiper.

"I asked permission but he had just signed a two-year contract in January," said Rodgers, who's in the Dominican Republic this week monitoring the club's winter program. "Tim, out of loyalty to the Red Sox, stayed with Boston on his own last year. As I told Tim, when he refused to break the contract, I said I was obviously going after the right guy.

"As it turned out, Gary went in and did an outstanding job for us. Our priority was to have Gary back, but that didn't happen. Tim had one year left on his contract. I called Boston again and they gave permission again. This time around, Tim said he wanted to be part of the Baltimore Orioles."

Leiper, 37, was Ottawa's hitting coach in 1999 after a 12-year playing career that topped out with three Triple-A teams. He served as a coach on the Canadian national team this year and will rejoin it in August for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

"We'll make accommodations to have someone in there to manage the club for him at the end of the season," Rodgers said.

The Orioles also announced yesterday that they dropped the Gulf Coast League team, leaving Bluefield and Aberdeen as their only short-season entries. They had been the only team in baseball with seven affiliates.

"We got down to the number that everyone else is at," Rodgers said. "This gives the other six teams a chance to be as competitive as they possibly can be."

The Single-A Frederick Keys are the only affiliate to return the same staff from last season, but the Orioles limited their outside hires of managers and coaches to Leiper and Matt Martin, who was named minor league infield/base-running instructor. Martin spent the past seven years in the Detroit Tigers' system, including six as a Double-A coach.

With the minor league clubs going a combined 368-389 after finishing 102 games below .500 the previous year, Rodgers didn't see the need for another massive overhaul.

"Stability and consistency breeds success," he said, "and promoting from within promotes loyalty and motivates guys that they're going to have a chance to move up the ladder."

Among the other internal changes, Larry McCall was named pitching coach at Double-A Bowie after holding the same position with Single-A Delmarva.

Bien Figueroa was promoted from roving infield instructor to manager at Delmarva. Doc Watson will serve as the Shorebirds' pitching coach after spending last season at Aberdeen.

Don Buford will move up from Bluefield to manage the IronBirds. Gary Kendall will replace Buford after coaching for two seasons at Aberdeen.

Jesus Alfaro, who managed the Gulf Coast team the past five years, will be an instructor at the minor league complex.

O's minor league staff

Triple-A Ottawa

Manager: Tim Leiper. Pitching coach: Steve McCatty. Field coach: Dave Cash. Trainer: P.J. Mainville.

Double-A Bowie

Manager: Dave Trembley. Pitching coach: Larry McCall. Field coach: Butch Davis. Trainer: Mark Shires.

Single-A Frederick

Manager: Tom Lawless. Pitching coach: Scott McGregor. Field coach: Moe Hill. Trainer: Trek Shuler.

Single-A Delmarva

Manager: Bien Figueroa. Pitching coach: Doc Watson. Field coach: Don Werner. Trainer: Joe Benge.

Short-season Single-A Aberdeen

Manager: Don Buford. Pitching coach: Andre Rabouin. Field coach: Cedric Landrum. Trainer: Spencer Elliott.

Rookie league Bluefield

Manager: Gary Kendall. Pitching coach: Larry Jaster. Field coach: Len Johnston. Trainer: Patrick Wesley.

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