Johnson, 52, officially will become the second manager interviewed as a possible candidate to replace Phil Regan, who managed the Orioles to a 71-73 record. Orioles officials, including owner Peter Angelos, have talked with Oakland Athletics manager Tony La Russa, who is asking for about $1.5 million per year.
Johnson led the Reds to the NL Central title, and Cincinnati swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs. But the Reds' season ended on a poor note Saturday, when the Atlanta Braves completed a four-game sweep of Cincinnati. Reds owner Marge Schott has made no secret of the fact that she doesn't like Johnson and doesn't want him back for 1996.
A convergence of events could accelerate the Orioles' timetable for making decisions on the futures of Regan and general manager Roland Hemond.
Randy Smith, who resigned as GM of the San Diego Padres and who interviewed with the Orioles last week, is expected to be offered the GM job of the Detroit Tigers today; NL and AL sources indicate that Smith is leaning toward accepting the job with the Tigers, in large part because of a prior affiliation with Detroit president John McHale.
If the Orioles want to offer Smith their GM job, they may have to do it today or tomorrow. Before that happens, though, it's likely they will formally resolve Hemond's murky status, reassigning or firing him.
One club source indicated that the Orioles would prefer to make the moves all at once, although Angelos could wait to see whether the New York Yankees retain GM Gene Michael and manager Buck Showalter. Michael is expected to stay with the Yankees in some capacity, Newsday reported today.