Oates praises Robinson after closed-door chat

KANSAS CITY, MO. — KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Orioles assistant general manager Frank Robinson met with Johnny Oates behind closed doors before last night's game to assure the manager he was not trying to undermine Oates' job security.

The meeting followed a pair of Washington Post reports that, citing unnamed sources, questioned Oates' job security. Some thought Robinson, who has said he might be interested in managing again, might have been the source, a charge Robinson denied in a Sun story Monday.


"Frank Robinson is a lot more secure and a lot stronger in the game than to have to undermine or back-stab to get someone's job," Oates said. "He's done too much in the game above the table to have to do anything under the table. There is nothing wrong with Frank Robinson saying he would manage again."

Oates said Robinson is "the reason I'm in Baltimore. Doug Melvin brought me in to manage in the minor leagues and I was interviewed by Frank to be on his coaching staff. When he became the assistant general manager and I was the manager, I felt so much more comfortable than I did being one of his coaches because I was intimidated as one of his coaches. I was in awe of him.


"I apologized to him right now for not coming in his office and talking to him more then. The reason I did that was because I figured he's Frank Robinson, he can handle everything himself. We have a very good relationship."

Trade winds

The Orioles have not given up hope of obtaining Montreal right fielder Larry Walker, Robinson said.

Walker, who earns more than $4 million this season, is eligible for free agency at the end of the season.

"I would think we wouldn't make a deal for Larry Walker or a player of that caliber without feeling we would be able to keep him beyond this year," Robinson said.

Montreal general manager Kevin Malone has said he would not trade Walker without getting a hitter in return.

Elsewhere, the Orioles still have their eyes on California Angels outfielder Dwight Smith, who has said he wants to be traded. Smith was platooning with Bo Jackson in left field under Buck Rodgers, but has been benched under new manager Marcel Lachemann.

Both Smith and Walker are left-handed hitters.


Even dozen, for now

Scott Klingenbeck remained on the pitching staff in the event Ben McDonald needed early relief, but Oates said the 12-man pitching staff is a temporary measure.

"When you go to 12 pitchers, that's to fill an immediate need, not for the long haul," Oates said. "If you have 12 pitchers, someone is not going to get much work."

Hammonds runs in Florida

Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds is not expected to return to the Orioles until a week from this Friday, at the earliest, Oates said.

"All he did today was run straight ahead and he won't do any baseball activities until Friday," Oates said of Hammonds, who is at extended spring training in Florida.


Extended spring training ends Friday, but there will be players available to pitch to Hammonds, Oates said. Hammonds likely will go on a brief minor-league rehab assignment before returning to the Orioles.

Hoiles not defensive

Catcher Chris Hoiles was pulled in favor of reserve Jeff Tackett in the ninth inning of Monday night's game, even though the Orioles had a 4-2 lead by then. Hoiles, who was charged with a pair of throwing errors on Vince Coleman stolen bases, said it was the first time he could recall being pulled for a defensive replacement to catch Lee Smith.

"It's his decision and I'm not upset," Hoiles said. "With Lee being out there, Lee's not a guy who is going to deliver the ball real quickly and Jeff's got a stronger arm than I do. I can see his thinking. I was just kind of surprised at the time. We won the game and if he wants to do that from here on out, I'm not going to say anything bad."


Former Oriole Tom O'Malley is Japan's second-leading hitter, with a .339 average. . . . Norberto Martin's home run for Chicago off Jim Poole on Saturday night was the first grand slam against the Orioles since Poole yielded one to the Tigers' Chad Kreuter on Aug. 12, 1993.