Frank Robinson rejoined the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, officially accepting a post as an assistant general manager who will work on trades and help to develop the team's plans at the new downtown ballpark and for a Florida spring-training complex.
But even as he was discussing the new job, Robinson acknowledged that he still aspires to another -- as a major-league general manager.
The training he will get as an assistant GM will be excellent preparation for a top baseball post, he said.
"If I didn't think that was the case, I wouldn't have taken the job," Robinson said yesterday from his home in Los Angeles. "I have beenassured I will get the training and experience that I will need."
Robinson, who was replaced as Orioles manager May 23, will be paid $125,000 as a front-office executive after earning a manager's salary of $300,000, Orioles sources said.
The salaries were contained in a contract negotiated in April 1988, when Robinson agreed to become Orioles manager, leaving a front-office position as special assistant to late Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams. The contract provided for Robinson to rejoin the front office whenever he or team officials decided on that course -- with the title of assistant general manager.
Robinson's lawyer, Ed Keating, and Orioles officials have been shaping the contract for a week. But, at first, the two sides differed over a precise accounting of Robinson's duties. The team suggested Robinson take some time off, then take on some scouting assignments, including one in Australia. Robinson wanted to return to work sooner and wanted more involvement in evaluating players.
Keating said the negotiations were an effort to streamline and update the contract.
"Some of the things that were outlined in the contract were, in Frank's mind, outdated," Keating said. "There were a lot of nebulous things there. Frank didn't want to be limited to measuring the sizes of the dugouts at the new stadium. This lets him get into the baseball end, where he has a bundle of information."
Robinson, 55, whose first day in the new job will be Monday, said he never seriously considered a job outside baseball after his dismissal as Orioles manager. A few days after he was relieved, he had spoken, half-jokingly, about pursuing a career in television, either as an actor or a sportscaster. Yesterday, Robinson said he didn't pursue those ideas because "the [Orioles] job was offered to me. It was there. Once the contract language was cleared up, that was it."
Robinson also expressed confidence that he will be able to work comfortably in a front office in which there is no shortage of ambition. Robinson becomes the Orioles' second assistant GM, joining Doug Melvin, who has that title in addition to being director of player personnel.
"The key is defining responsibilities, and I think that's been done," Robinson said. "Doug's responsibilities already are defined to some extent, in my own opinion. No. 1, he's the player personnel director. I'll be assisting Roland in a variety of other areas in which he has needed assistance over the past four years."
Melvin welcomed Robinson to the job.
"We worked together when Frank was managing. There's no reason we shouldn't be able to work together now," Melvin said. "He'll just have a different uniform on."