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Malone-Johnson ticket appears ready for O's election


ATLANTA -- Former Montreal Expos general manager Kevin Malone is emerging as the front-runner to replace Roland Hemond as Orioles general manager.

Orioles officials contacted Malone again in the last few days, following up on his strong interview of Oct. 9 with owner Peter Angelos and club counsel Russell Smouse.

If they work out a deal, the GM-manager combination of Malone and Davey Johnson could be announced as soon as tomorrow. Major League Baseball asks teams to refrain from making major announcements during the World Series, so as not to overshadow the event. But when an announcement is imminent -- and the hiring of Johnson as manager appears to be just that -- teams occasionally will make moves on off days during the postseason.

Malone, 38, particularly impressed Angelos and Smouse with his knowledge of players, which makes some sense; Malone has a " long history as a scout. He became general manager of the Expos in January of 1994, after Dan Duquette left Montreal to become the GM of the Boston Red Sox.

The Expos had the best record in baseball in 1994, but financial troubles forced the club to dramatically reduce its payroll in '95; in one week in spring, Malone traded All-Stars Marquis Grissom, John Wetteland and Ken Hill. Malone left the Expos at the end of the season, saying he wanted a chance to win.

During the season, Malone and Johnson spoke several times, agreeing that if they could, they wanted to work together sometime. Johnson said last week that he spoke well of Malone during his interview with Angelos and Smouse.

If Johnson is hired, he could hire Mel Stottlemyre as his pitching coach. Stottlemyre resigned as pitching coach of the Houston Astros last week, citing personal reasons. Johnson and Stottlemyre worked together when Johnson managed the New York Mets from 1984 to 1990.

Johnson, 52, made somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000 to manage the Cincinnati Reds, but one club source indicated that he could get a sizable raise working for the Orioles.

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