Samuel likely to return as Orioles third base coach

Markakis: 'It's awesome that he is coming back'; Hendrickson's option declined

November 02, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles manager Buck Showalter likely will add to his 2011 coaching staff the man he replaced in August.

Juan Samuel, who took over as the club's interim manager in June after Dave Trembley was fired and stepped down when Showalter was hired weeks later, is expected to be named the Orioles' third base and infielders coach for 2011.

Samuel hadn't agreed to a contract as of Tuesday, but he said he has given Showalter his word he will return.

"It looks like I'm going to be back," Samuel said via phone from the Dominican Republic. "We've had some good conversations, and I want to come back and I'll be coaching third."

Samuel and Showalter spoke by phone Monday, and Samuel acknowledged it was strange initially to consider a position he had held from 2007 to 2010. Samuel turned down the chance to return to third base from the manager's office in August, instead taking an informal role that required him to evaluate the organization's Dominican operation.

But Samuel, 49, said he thinks it will be easier to join Showalter now that it doesn't directly follow his managing stint.

"It kind of surprised me a little bit when I got a phone call that [Buck] was going to call me. I was like, 'Oh, boy,'" Samuel said. "But I think if I start [at third base] in spring training, the transition will be much easier. It was so uncomfortable to stay in that role [in August], but now I am looking forward to starting from scratch in spring training."

Samuel, who was 17-34 as Orioles manager, had informal talks last month with the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates about their managerial vacancies but no formal interviews. He has been mentioned as a candidate for the Philadelphia Phillies' first base coaching job but said he was intrigued by returning to a clubhouse where he knows most of the key players.

"I've always liked him. He played the game. He knows the game. I'm not surprised that he's coming back," Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said of Samuel. "He still wanted to be in the organization. It's awesome that he is coming back. I think it will be a popular move, for sure. All the guys liked him."

In putting together his staff, Showalter wanted a base coach who could work with infielders as well as a Spanish-speaking coach. He accomplished both with Samuel.

Gary Allenson, who coached third base at the end of 2010, has the option to return to Triple-A Norfolk as manager.

Showalter is not commenting on his coaching staff until it is officially announced by the organization, but it looks to be nearly complete.

Jim Presley (hitting) and Rick Adair (bullpen) have agreed to contracts and will be present at the organizational meetings in Arizona, which begin in earnest Thursday. The club is negotiating with Mark Connor to be pitching coach, but that appears inevitable.

Don Wakamatsu is the leading candidate to be the club's bench coach if he doesn't take a managerial job elsewhere. If those five are set, Showalter would need only a first base coach who can also instruct outfielders. Former major leaguer Wayne Kirby is considered a serious candidate.

Hendrickson option declined

The Orioles decided Tuesday not to pick up left-handed reliever Mark Hendrickson's $1.2 million option for 2011, instead buying it out for $200,000.

Hendrickson, 36, was 1-6 with a 5.26ERA in 52 games (one start). He is now a free agent, though the possibility remains that he will re-sign with the team this winter, as he did in January. He lives in York, Pa., and liked living at home while playing for the Orioles.

"The hardest part of today is it's kind of one of those reality checks -- 'OK, now what is going to happen?'" Hendrickson said. "There's the uncertainty that comes with free agency, and as I've gotten older, there's the implications on your family. That's where it hits home the most. The emotions are all over the place, for my wife and for me as well. You've got to let it play out and deal with our emotions, for the next couple days, anyway."

After posting a 4.37 ERA for the Orioles in 2009, Hendrickson wasn't nearly as effective this season, allowing left-handers to hit .317 against him and right-handers to hit .311.

He was better under Showalter, however. He did not allow an earned run in nine of his first 10 outings for the new manager and dropped his season ERA from 5.31 to 4.80 before a disastrous final outing in October in which he surrendered four runs in one-third of an inning.

"I enjoy playing for the Orioles and enjoy playing for Buck, and we played well toward the end of the season," Hendrickson said. "Ultimately, for me, I know I can be of value, but it all comes down to putting together a year I am capable of, and I am already back in the gym doing the things I need to do to improve."

In the past, Showalter has praised Hendrickson for his work ethic and calm demeanor.

"Mark is a professional. You see why he has had a long career and why his work is wanted in a lot of places," Showalter said Tuesday. "He's a guy that we'll see, when the landscape shakes out, whether he fits or not."

Around the horn

Orioles minor league infielder Ryan Adams and Single-A Frederick pitching coach Blaine Beatty have been selected to represent the East Division in the Arizona Fall League's fifth annual Rising Stars game, which will be held Sunday. It will be broadcast on MLB Network starting at 9 p.m. … Monday's conclusion of the World Series means free agency starts at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. The Orioles have exclusive negotiating rights with their seven free agents until then. Beginning Sunday, free agents can negotiate with any team.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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