The Orioles are inching closer to completing their 2011 coaching staff after coming to terms with former big leaguer Wayne Kirby to be the club's first base coach and outfield instructor.
According to an industry source, Kirby joins hitting coach Jim Presley and bullpen coach Rick Adair as done deals on manager Buck Showalter's staff for next year. The club is still in discussions with Mark Connor (pitching coach) and Juan Samuel (third base/infielders) and has not officially reached agreements with either, the source said.
Former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu is considered the leading candidate to be Showalter's bench coach, but there is still a possibility he could be hired this offseason as a big league manager. The New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates have not yet named new skippers.
Showalter's staff might not be announced until all six members are under contract. He is not commenting on the hirings until the team makes them official.
Kirby, 46, has never coached in the majors but played professionally for 18 seasons, including eight in the big leagues for the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and Mets. He played all three outfield positions in the majors, the majority in right field.
He has spent the past five seasons as the Texas Rangers' minor league outfield/base-running coordinator -- joining that organization while Showalter was the Rangers' manager -- and also worked for four seasons in the Indians' minor league system.
Kirby is replacing John "T-Bone" Shelby, a former Orioles outfielder who had coached first base and the club's outfielders since 2008. Reached by phone Wednesday, Shelby said he had not heard from the Orioles organization in two weeks and, therefore, has been in contact with other teams about coaching vacancies.
Shelby has been a first base/outfielders coach since 1998, spending eight seasons with the Dodgers and two with the Pittsburgh Pirates before coming to Baltimore. In 2009, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones credited Shelby with helping him win his first Gold Glove.
"It's a change, and a change I am going to have to deal with," Jones said when he heard the news about Shelby. "Changes happen in the game, and there's not much you can do."
Kirby might also help with the Orioles' base-running instruction. He stole 44 bases in his big league career, including 17 (in 22 attempts) in 1993, and stole 51 bases at Triple-A in 1992.
A native of Williamsburg, Va., Kirby played the 2000 season for Rochester, then the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate, but never made it back to the majors. That was his last season in affiliated baseball. Kirby's younger brother, Terry, was a standout running back at the University of Virginia and played 10 seasons in the NFL.
Organizational meetings today
The Orioles begin their three-day organizational meetings today in Phoenix, with selected members of the minor league and major league operations and scouting departments present, including Showalter, Presley, Adair and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
MacPhail didn't hold the meetings last offseason but said he thought it made sense to have them this year, in Showalter's first winter with the organization.
"I think one of the main reasons is to give Buck an opportunity to transmit some of his philosophies down through our system to make sure we are doing things uniformly," MacPhail said. "There also have been some personnel changes, your routine ones from year to year, so there is a fair amount of people that are new" and haven't been part of the meetings previously.
MacPhail said it will be both an overview of the organization's 2010 season and its needs for 2011.
"We'll go through last season and try to be analytical on where we made progress and where we haven't, and we'll focus on those areas we think we need to improve," MacPhail said. "We'll look at other organizations, analyze them and see where there might be an opportunity to trade, and we'll prioritize the free-agent market. There's a lot to do in a three-day period."
Showalter said he'll use the time to get to know more people in the organization while gleaning additional information about what's needed for 2011.
"It's great to have everybody get in the same place and put some names with faces a little bit," said Showalter.