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Throw Barnett into Orioles¿ hitting coach mix

Now that Terry Crowley has accepted a newly created position to work with minor leaguers and evaluate the organization's offensive players as well as targeted amateurs, the Orioles will have a new hitting coach for the first time since 1998.

Here's someone the Orioles are considering for the job: Mike Barnett.

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Barnett, 51, spent the past two seasons as the Houston Astros' minor-league hitting coordinator. Before that, he had a three-year stint as the hitting coach with the Kansas City Royals and spent the previous four seasons in the same position with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he was credited with helping young hitters such as Vernon Wells and Orlando Hudson mature at the plate.

From 1998-2001, he was the hitting coach for Tucson, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Triple-A affiliate. The big-league manager of the Diamondbacks for most of that time was Buck Showalter, the Orioles' new manager.

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Barnett also worked in the New York Yankees' baseball operations department in the 1980s while Showalter was a minor-league player and manager in the Yankees' system.

Barnett's not the only one with previous ties to Showalter that will be linked to the hitting coach job. The man that Crowley replaced after the 1998 season likely will get some consideration.

Rick Down, currently a special assignment scout for the San Francisco Giants, was the Orioles' hitting coach from 1996-98 under Davey Johnson and Ray Miller. He was the hitting coach for the New York Yankees under Buck Showalter in the mid-1990s.

Also in the mix is Jim Presley, who worked with Showalter as the hitting coach in Arizona. Presley, however, is considered the leading candidate for the Atlanta Braves' vacant hitting coach job. Presley was fired this summer as the Florida Marlins' hitting coach under Fredi Gonzalez, who also was canned at the same time.

Gonzalez is now the new manager in Atlanta, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Gonzalez has interviewed Presley for that job.

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