Although no official announcement has been made, the Orioles have reached an agreement with Terry Crowley that will make the big league hitting coach an organization-wide offensive evaluator in 2011, according to two sources.
One source said all the specifics have not been finalized, including Crowley's exact title, but it is "a matter of dotting the I's and crossing the T's."
Crowley, 63, had the option to remain with the big league club in 2011, according to a source. But instead of signing on for his 13th consecutive season and 17th overall as Orioles hitting coach, he has chosen this newly created role, which will have him working with the organization's minor leaguers and major leaguers in spring training.
Next season, Crowley is expected to have a wide range of responsibilities that would include tutoring specific minor league hitters, evaluating potential amateur draft choices and scouting hitters from other organizations who could be available via trade or free agency.
Crowley's new role is not expected to be announced until manager Buck Showalter names his 2011 staff. Although Showalter said he is nearing that goal, he said there are "some moving parts" that need to be resolved before a staff is assembled. He does not have a timetable for that declaration.
Crowley would not comment on his future with the organization until an official announcement is made. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail also would not comment, saying the coaching staff is Showalter's domain.
Showalter is not discussing who is on his wish list, but two of his former hitting coaches could be available: Rick Down and Jim Presley.
Down, 59, was Showalter's hitting coach with the New York Yankees and also held that position with the Orioles from 1996 to 1998. He currently is an advanced scout with the San Francisco Giants.
Presley, 49, was Showalter's hitting coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks and most recently held the position with the Florida Marlins before being fired, along with manager Fredi Gonzalez, this season. Presley also could rejoin Gonzalez, who recently was hired as the Atlanta Braves' manager.
It's possible that Crowley will not be the only current member of Showalter's staff to take on a different role in the organization. Third base coach Gary Allenson has the option of returning to managing at Triple-A Norfolk if he doesn't remain with the big league staff. Bullpen coach Alan Dunn also could be offered a minor league position working with pitchers if he is not retained by the Orioles.
A longtime big leaguer known for his pinch-hitting expertise with the Orioles, Crowley had been the team's hitting coach for the past 12 seasons and for 16 seasons overall. In this most recent 12-season stint, Crowley worked with seven managers, six pitching coaches and six presidents or vice presidents of baseball operations.
Crowley's offense finished 13th of 14 teams in the American League this year in runs, but he remained exceptionally popular with the club's hitters for his work ethic and positive reinforcement.
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