Hargrove gets a last-place project: Mariners

Former Orioles manager hired to replace Melvin

Baseball

October 21, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

After spending one season in a job with few responsibilities, his schedule freeing him to play golf and ride his motorcycle, Mike Hargrove is back in the manager's seat. He hopes it stays cooler than the last time he sat in it.

The Seattle Mariners introduced Hargrove as manager yesterday during a news conference at Safeco Field, returning him to a position he last held with the Orioles in 2003.

Hargrove went 275-372 in four years with the Orioles before being fired. He returned to Cleveland this year as an assistant to general manager Mark Shapiro after guiding the Indians to five straight Central Division titles and two World Series appearances between 1991 and 1999.

His hiring in Seattle ended a three-week search for Bob Melvin's successor. The Mariners won 90 or more games in four consecutive seasons before going 63-99 this year - Melvin's second - and finishing last in the American League West.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be coming to Seattle," said Hargrove, who will turn 55 on Tuesday. "I think Seattle is one of the premier stops in the game. In my research, I got a lot of information about the city and the future of the organization. I know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I've never been afraid of hard work."

The Indians were 721-591 in nine seasons under Hargrove, but the Orioles never finished higher than fourth. They also never had as much talent as the Cleveland teams that routinely ran away with the division.

"I think I'm pretty good at what I do," he said. "I do the job the way I think it should be done and don't offer excuses for it. And I'm not always right."

Hargrove, who signed a three-year contract with the Mariners, beat out former Boston Red Sox manager Grady Little.

Mariners pitching coach Bryan Price is under contract for 2005, but the five other members of Melvin's staff were given permission to seek other jobs.

"I'm not concerned about bringing in my people," Hargrove said. "We want to bring in the right people for the right job."

Hargrove spent part of his news conference talking about his relationship with former Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley, who was reassigned to a scouting position in June.

At least five teams have contacted Wiley regarding various jobs, and the Florida Marlins reportedly are interested in him as pitching coach. But his loyalty remains with Hargrove, since they worked together in Cleveland and Baltimore.

"I would definitely have interest in joining him out there," Wiley said.

All of the Orioles coaches were invited back for next season. Bench coach Sam Perlozzo, who also is close to Hargrove, has said he wants to remain in his present capacity unless given the chance to manage.

Perlozzo is waiting to find out if the Mariners seek permission from the Orioles to contact him, and whether it's granted. "If so, I'd like to know why," he said. "I wouldn't leave unless there weren't any plans here for me."

Executive vice president Jim Beattie indicated that the club wouldn't grant permission if it's a lateral move.

NOTE: The Orioles have interviewed two in-house candidates for director of minor league operations: assistant Tripp Norton and minor league fielding and hitting coordinator David Stockstill. No other interviews are planned this week.

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