Mark Connor agrees to terms to become Orioles' pitching coach

November 07, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

In a move that has been anticipated since Buck Showalter took over as Orioles' manager in August, the club has agreed to terms with Mark Connor to become its new pitching coach.

Connor, 61, has been on Showalter's staff in each of the manager's three previous stints in the majors, including time as Showalter's pitching coach with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.

Connor attended part of the Orioles' organizational meetings in Phoenix this week and a club source confirmed that Connor has reached an agreement to be the Orioles' pitching coach. He joins a staff that includes Jim Presley (hitting), Wayne Kirby (first base) and Rick Adair (bullpen).

The club still has not agreed to terms with Juan Samuel, their leading candidate for third base coach, or Don Wakamatsu, who is the leading candidate to be bench coach but has interviewed with the Blue Jays for that role and is expected to have a managerial interview with the New York Mets.

The Orioles have contingency plans if Wakamatsu goes elsewhere and/or Samuel does not agree to a deal. Orioles President Andy MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter will not comment on the hirings until the entire staff is announced.

Connor's resume is exceptionally full. He has spent 35 years as a baseball coach, including the last eight seasons with the Texas Rangers. He most recently was a special assistant in the Rangers' player development department, working primarily with minor-league pitchers. He was the big-league club's pitching coach from 2006 to 2008, and was originally hired by Showalter in November 2002 to be Rangers' bullpen coach, a post he held for three seasons.

Along with working with Showalter, Connor was Buck Martinez's pitching coach with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001-02 and also has been the head baseball coach at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. A former pitcher in the Minnesota Twins organization, he played two seasons in the minors before an arm injury derailed his hopes of making the big leagues.

Connor replaces Rick Kranitz, who was the club's pitching coach for three seasons before his contract expired last month. Kranitz took the minor league pitching coordinator job with the Houston Astros.

Connor becomes the Orioles' 12th pitching coach since 1994; that includes two separate stints each by Ray Miller and Mike Flanagan.

In other news, the Orioles wrapped up their three-day mini-organizational meetings in Phoenix. MacPhail, Showalter, Adair, Presley and Connor were there along with selected members of the organization's scouting and development departments.

"I am pleased in that the guys were prepared and gave their opinions, which is the two things we asked of them," MacPhail said.

He would not specify what was discussed at the meetings. He also would not comment as to whether the Orioles contacted any potential players on Sunday, the first day that clubs were allowed to talk to other teams' free agents.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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