Don Wakamatsu has joined the Toronto Blue Jays and so he won't be Buck Showalter's bench coach.
Juan Samuel and the Orioles haven't been able to agree to terms and it's looking more and more like Samuel may coach elsewhere in 2011 – possibly Philadelphia, the site of many of Samuel's best days on the field. Samuel has been in contact with the Phillies about their vacant first-base coaching job and also has talked to other teams, according to his agent.
I've been told that the Orioles no longer anticipate Samuel will be part of the 2011 staff, so they are moving on to other candidates. That's not saying the door is shut, but it is creaking that way.
That would leave two spots open on Showalter's 2011 staff: bench coach and third base coach. One will be in charge of instructing the catchers and the other will handle infielders.
Originally, Showalter wanted a Spanish-speaking coach on staff, but as his needs and the coaching options have narrowed, he may forego that plan and just focus on the best catching and infielding instruction he can get.
We've heard plenty of names. Here's a look at five legitimate candidates in the running:
Willie Randolph, 56. Yes, he's a Yankee, and that's frowned upon in these parts. But he was a six-time all-star infielder in an 18-season career, spent 13 years coaching the big leagues and parts of four more as the manager of the New York Mets. His first big-league coaching job was in 1994, on Showalter's Yankees' staff. The past two seasons he was the bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers, who fired manager Ken Macha and replaced him with Ron Roenicke. If Showalter is looking for an experienced baseball man as well as a trusted old friend to be his bench coach and work with infielders, Randolph is the guy.
Gary Allenson, 55. The former big-league catcher was in his fourth season managing the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate when he received the call in June to come up to the majors and replace Samuel as third-base coach while Samuel took over interim managerial duties. When Samuel stepped down in August after Showalter was hired, Allenson remained on staff and by all accounts did a fine job as third-base coach. He has two major advantages: He knows most of the Orioles from managing them in Triple-A and he spent seven seasons as a big-league catcher, with Boston and Toronto, so he'd be able to handle catching instruction responsibilities. He likely could serve as bench or third base coach. He's also been offered the Norfolk job again if he is not included on the big-league staff.
Rob Thomson, 47. Another Yankee, he has spent the past 21 seasons in various roles with the Bronx Bombers, including the last two as third base coach and 2008 as Joe Girardi's bench coach. His contract expired at the end of the season, and he could join Showalter, whom he worked with in the Yankees' system in the 1990s, in either capacity. He was a minor league catcher and third baseman in the Detroit Tigers organization for four seasons, but never made the majors.
Rich Donnelly, 64. He has spent more than 25 years as a big-league coach, 14 of it on Jim Leyland's staffs in Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. He has also been a big-league coach for the Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers. In his third-base coaching stint with the Dodgers, he organized spring training camp in 2006 and 2007, which is a responsibility that often falls on bench coaches. He was a minor-league catcher, playing four minor league seasons in the Minnesota Twins organization. Also a former minor league manager, he could serve as third base coach or bench coach. He was a serious candidate for the Orioles' bench coach in 2010 before Jeff Datz was hired.
Mike Bordick, 45. A local favorite, Bordick played in the majors for 14 seasons, including six with the Orioles. Will forever be remembered in Baltimore as the shortstop who came to town and moved Cal Ripken Jr. to third base. He spent the last season as the Orioles' roving offensive instructor and was a roving infield instructor for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009. He helped out in spring training and at times at the big-league level last season. A former sure-handed shortstop, he'd likely coach third and be in charge of the infielders. If not, he'll remain an instructor within the organization.
These aren't the only names that have been thrown around, however. Here are a few more: Bobby Dickerson, who managed at Triple-A Norfolk for part of the season; former Oriole B.J. Surhoff; former manager and big-league catcher Jerry Narron.