PHILADELPHIA -- The Orioles coaching staff will not be set until after managing general partner Peter Angelos officially announces the return of manager Johnny Oates and general manager Roland Hemond, but one of the coaching decisions may be made outside the organization.
Hemond confirmed yesterday that the Houston Astros have contacted him about first-base coach Davey Lopes, who has been rumored to be the leading candidate to replace Art Howe as Astros manager.
"They said at some point they would be talking to him," Hemond said at the World Series yesterday.
The Astros are required to get permission from the Orioles to interview Lopes. Hemond indicated the Astros informed him of their intention to talk to Lopes, but did not actually ask for permission. He said he expects to hear from them again.
Lopes was not available for comment. He is managing Tucson in the Arizona Fall League -- a team that includes prospects from the Orioles and the Astros. It is no secret that he would be interested in the job. The reason he agreed to manage this winter was for the experience.
The Astros recently fired Howe and general manager Bill Wood. The club replaced Wood with former assistant GM Bob Watson immediately and began its search for a new field manager. Lopes and Astros coach Matt Galante are considered the leading candidates. Watson could not be reached for comment.
There are six Orioles coaches whose status will be determined in the next few weeks. The only one whose future appears in question is third-base coach Mike Ferraro, who came under fire for coaching decisions late in the season.
Oates would not comment yesterday on the coaching staff, saying that because he has not officially been rehired as manager, he thinks it would be presumptuous to speculate. But it seems likely that all of the coaching decisions will be announced soon after he signs.
Oates indicated earlier this month that his main concern about uncertainty of his situation was the impact it might be having on his coaches. He talked to each of them by phone last week, but was unable to assure them they would be back next year.
"Johnny called all of us on Friday," Ferraro said from his Florida home. "He just called to say that he hadn't heard anything yet. He said that as soon as he finds out what the situation is, he would get back to us and let us know what was going on."
Ferraro has heard all the rumors, but he is hoping he gets invited back.
"I'm looking forward to coming back," said Ferraro, who could be switched to first base with Lopes moving to third. "I would be very disappointed if I was not invited back. I thought I did a good job. I made some mistakes, but you're going to make some mistakes in that position."