I wrote yesterday that the Orioles had scheduled three or four interviews next week with candidates for pitching coach. I also heard that a “high-profile” candidate would interview Tuesday.
That would be former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, as The Sun reported last night.
Dubee is intriguing because he worked with studs like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. He also has strong ties to executive vice president Dan Duquette, though it’s ultimately manager Buck Showalter’s call.
I talked to someone in the organization yesterday who viewed Dubee as a long shot, but it’s too early in the process to accurately handicap the field. And as we learned by the hiring of Lee Mazzilli as manager prior to the 2004 season, an impressive interview can change the odds.
I’m a big supporter of Triple-A pitching coach Mike Griffin, but the Orioles are hesitant to pull him out of the farm system. As Showalter is fond of saying, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Joe Kerrigan, most recently the Pirates’ pitching coach until August 2010, has strong ties to Duquette. He also pitched for the Orioles. You may remember that the Expos traded him to the Orioles, along with Gary Roenicke and Don Stanhouse, for Rudy May, Randy Miller and Bryn Smith following the 1977 season.
Don’t bother connecting the dots. I’m told he’s not a candidate.
During my interview with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer earlier this week, he said that he’d “bet the ranch” that third baseman Manny Machado is ready on opening day despite undergoing knee surgery.
“He’s 21,” Palmer said, “and he will work hard.”
Showalter has consulted with Palmer about the process of hiring a new pitching coach.
“I’ve been on so many great staffs,” Palmer said. “You’re in the American League East, you know that you’re going to compete every year against Tampa Bay. You know that you’re going to compete against the Red Sox and Yankees. You know that you’re in a very tough division.
“I just think they really have to be able to find somebody who can instill how important it is and the sense of pride that this staff has to have.”
Palmer also noted how “the last three or four years, some guys haven’t progressed the way they needed to.” There’s lots of blame to go around.
I interviewed former catcher Rick Dempsey earlier this week on the 30th anniversary of the Orioles’ last World Series triumph. I mentioned his return to the organization in 1992, which may have been forgotten by fans as time passed.
Dempsey had one hit in nine at-bats. He didn’t sign until June 22, was released on July 31 and re-signed on Sept. 27. However, he was a constant presence with the club.
“I go back to 1986 when at the end of the season with the Orioles, I had to get an elbow operation,” Dempsey said. “The Orioles weren’t going to pick up the option on my contract, and I was so freaking hurt. They were bringing in Mickey Tettleton to play every day, a big home run hitting catcher. I got in a big contract dispute with (general manager) Hank Peters. I was so upset they didn’t call me in to talk about this transaction that I said I’d sign with the worst team at the minimum salary rather than come back to the Orioles, and God was listening. I went to the Cleveland Indians.
“I tried to put the Orioles out of my mind, which was hard to do.”
Dempsey signed with the Dodgers in March 1988 and won another World Series. In the meantime, “I was watching the Orioles struggle through seasons, losing their first 21 games in 1988,” he said. “I took my lumps with the Indians and the Orioles were taking their lumps.”
Dempsey was a backup with the Brewers in 1991, but again was pushed aside.
“They needed to move on and bring up a young guy, so they let me go,” he said. “I wanted to put everything behind me and come back to the Orioles and get a chance to play. When I talked to (manager) Johnny Oates and the GM, they seemed very excited about having me back. I had been through a lot of championship series and had a lot of experience to give back to Orioles pitchers. I was invited to spring training and made the ballclub, but on the very first day, they asked me to stay with the Orioles, but they weren’t going to sign me until later.
“Chris Hoiles broke his hand or something happened and they activated me later in the season. I was there with the club every day working out. I only started one game and I knew the writing was on the wall. They really didn’t want me there as a player anymore, so they just didn’t say anything about it until the end of the season. They deactivated me before Sept. 1 and then activated me later in the month. I finished it out and said it was time for me to move on and hang it up.
“I knew that I could still play if given the opportunity, but Oates wasn’t going to do that. I moved on and life went on.
“They considered me kind of like a coach or something. I still dressed with the club even though I wasn’t active. I went about my business.”
Jonathan Schoop hit his first home run yesterday for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League. He’s now 2-for-21.
Eduardo Rodriguez has allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, with three walks and five strikeouts, and some observers believe he’s tired.
I’m heading down to Ocean Pines to visit my parents, but I’ll keep checking the blog. Just not every five minutes. But I’ll be around.