For the first time since he took over the Orioles in August 2010, manager Buck Showalter's coaching staff was expected to be set through a winter. Every coach had a contract and no one was leaving for another job.
But that has changed, and Showalter is again looking to fill a vacancy.
Jim Presley, the Orioles' hitting coach for the previous four seasons, will not be back for 2015, an industry source told The Baltimore Sun on Monday.
The Orioles did not officially announce the move, but club executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed Monday that Presley, whose contract runs through the 2015 season, has been reassigned within the organization.
No specifics have been agreed upon at this time, but it is possible that Presley could end up in a scouting role. Duquette would not detail the reasoning behind the reassignment.
According to the industry source, however, the move was triggered by personal issues, not job performance. Presley did not return a call seeking comment.
Duquette, Showalter and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson met in Baltimore on Monday with two candidates: one from outside the organization; the other, current Orioles minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Manto.
A former Orioles corner infielder in 1995, Manto, 50, has been a major league hitting coach with the Chicago White Sox and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He likely will be the only internal candidate at this time.
The Orioles are expected to interview perhaps as many as five candidates initially, after vetting a list of roughly 20 possibilities. There was some initial interest in big names such as former Orioles Anderson, B.J. Surhoff and Jim Thome, as well as former major league manager Charlie Manuel and recently retired Raul Ibanez.
But, according to a source, those potential candidates eliminated themselves as possibilities due to the extensive time commitment required of the job.
The club would like to have a decision made on the new hitting coach by the annual winter meetings that begin Dec. 8 in San Diego. But there is no specific deadline, Duquette said.
“We'll try to move it along in the next couple weeks,” Duquette said. “We've had two formal interviews, and Buck has had a number of conversations with potential candidates. I don't know where the search will take us, maybe another interview or two. We'll see.”
Presley joined the Orioles before the 2011 season after spending parts of five years as the hitting coach for the Florida Marlins.
In 2014, Orioles hitters were sixth in the American League in runs scored and batting average and first in the major leagues in home runs with 211.
But they were 11th of 15 AL teams in on-base percentage — one of the primary criticisms levied at Presley during his tenure in Baltimore. Presley oversaw a group of free-swingers who didn't work counts, but hit balls out of the ballpark. The Orioles homered 200 or more times in each of the last three seasons under Presley.
Showalter, at times, has gone out of the organization for coaches such as Presley, current pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti, who were both hired last winter from the Atlanta Braves organization.
But he also promoted third base coach Bobby Dickerson and assistant hitting instructor Einar Diaz from the Orioles' system. Diaz is not considered an immediate candidate to replace Presley.
It's likely whomever the Orioles hire will have major league playing experience, although that is not an absolute requirement. Presley, though, played eight seasons in the majors, primarily as a third baseman with the Seattle Mariners, for whom he made the AL All-Star team in 1986.