Orioles offer John Russell one of two open coaching jobs

Former Pirates manager would likely become bench coach but could also coach third

November 15, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Buck Showalter moved closer Monday to finalizing his 2011 coaching staff, offering former Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell one of two remaining positions.

Russell, a former big league catcher who managed the Pirates for three seasons before he was fired early last month, is interested in the opening, but he still has to work out contractual details with Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.

One source said that it's "moving in that direction, but it's not a fait accompli."

Russell, 49, would most likely be Showalter's bench coach, but it's possible he would be asked to coach third base. That will largely depend on Showalter's final hire for the coaching staff.

Showalter is still looking for an infield coach to round out the staff. Former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph and New York Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson are two names under consideration, according to sources.

Russell interviewed with Showalter and met other team officials Friday in Baltimore. One of his prime duties will be working with young catcher Matt Wieters.

A first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982 who spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors, Russell played 209 of his 448 games at catcher and caught Nolan Ryan's sixth no-hitter in 1990.

After his playing career, Russell managed in the Minnesota Twins' and Phillies' organizations and served as the third base coach for Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon from 2003 to 2005. He returned to the Pirates' organization as manager from 2008 to 2010, compiling a 186-299 record.

If Russell is hired, Gary Allenson, who was the Orioles' third base coach for the season's final four months, likely would return to manage Triple-A Norfolk or opt to not return to the organization. Allenson is also a catching instructor.

The Orioles have finalized deals with four other coaches: Jim Presley (hitting), Mark Connor (pitching), Rick Adair (bullpen) and Wayne Kirby (first base/outfield).

O's add pitcher

The Orioles signed right-handed pitcher Mitch Atkins to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.

Atkins, 25, went 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 28 games (15 starts) in 2010 for Triple-A Iowa, a Chicago Cubs affiliate. He has made seven big league relief appearances spanning 12 innings for the Cubs over the past two seasons, compiling a 5.25 ERA.

The Orioles also signed several of their minor leaguers before they became eligible for free agency: relievers Will Startup and Raul Rivero, catcher Adam Donachie and infielder Carlos Rojas.

Ex-O's coaches join Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers announced the hiring of three former Orioles coaches to complete first-year manager Ron Roenicke's 2011 staff.

Rick Kranitz, who had spent the past three seasons as pitching coach in Baltimore, will do the same under Roenicke, and John Shelby, the Orioles' first base and outfield coach from 2008 to 2010 and an outfielder with the team from 1981 to 1987, was named outfield instructor/"eye in the sky".

Kranitz had been hired as minor league pitching coordinator for the Houston Astros earlier this month.

Milwaukee also hired Jerry Narron as bench coach. Narron, who formerly managed the Cincinnati Reds, spent years in the Orioles' organization as a minor league manager and served as big league coach under manager Johnny Oates in 1993 and 1994.

Narron also played 95 games, most of them at catcher, in 1988 for Rochester, then the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate. His son, Connor, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Orioles' in June and plays infield in their minor league system.

FanFest set for Jan. 29

The Orioles' FanFest 2011 is scheduled for Jan. 29 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun news services contributed to this article.

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