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Johnson says O's deal is imminent Prospective manager guesses Kevin Malone will get job as GM


CLEVELAND -- Davey Johnson said yesterday that his deal to become manager of the Orioles is "imminent," and guessed that former Montreal Expos general manager Kevin Malone will replace Roland Hemond as the team's GM.

In an interview with the Cincinnati Post, Johnson said, "I think it's imminent, but you can never say for sure. I've talked to [Orioles owner Peter] Angelos . . . we have a good relationship.

"They're looking at a general manager, and they want to make sure the general manager likes me and stuff like that," said Johnson, who has been told he will not be retained as Cincinnati Reds manager next season.

Asked about who he thought would be the Orioles' GM, Johnson replied, "Kevin Malone, I guess. But I don't know for sure."

Johnson said he talked to Angelos as recently as Sunday. "I told Peter Angelos I'd love to work there. I wanted to last year, and I didn't get to, and I want to this year.

"I never take anything for granted in this game. The only thing I took for granted is that I was out of Cincinnati. Until it's signed, sealed and delivered, I can't say for sure [about the Orioles]."

An Orioles official vehemently denied a report published elsewhere Monday that the Johnson deal is done. The hiring likely won't come until Friday, or at the conclusion of the World Series, because of Major League Baseball's dictum to avoid announcing major moves during the Series.

"There's no major hurry because you know you can't do a lot during this time," Johnson told the Cincinnati Post.

Johnson's agent, Skip Dalton, said yesterday, "We continue to have conversations with Baltimore, and we hope it leads to something productive."

Tony La Russa, who signed as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday and was a candidate for the Orioles' job, said his negotiations with Angelos got serious, but he would not comment on the specifics.

The talks apparently hung up over the amount of say La Russa would have in front-office matters, but he endorsed the club's expected hiring of Johnson.

"If it's Davey, I think that's a great fit," La Russa said.

Regarding their GM search, the Orioles yesterday conducted, via phone, their second extensive interview with Malone, who lives in Florida.

The Orioles also asked for and received permission to talk to Boston Red Sox assistant GM Mike Port, who turned down an offer to become the New York Yankees' GM over the weekend. Contacted by the Orioles yesterday, Port said he would be interested in talking about their GM vacancy.

Club officials also contacted former Toronto Blue Jays GM Pat Gillick yesterday. It's not known whether Gillick was asked about his possible interest in joining the Orioles. Gillick told a close friend recently that working for the Orioles was somewhat intriguing, but that he had no real interest.

Meanwhile, Orioles assistant GM Frank Robinson had a strong interview with the Padres on Monday, and a San Diego source indicated he has a good chance of replacing Randy Smith as GM there.

"I felt good about the process," Robinson said yesterday. "It was a very thorough interview, but I didn't feel like I was being interrogated. I was very comfortable."

Padres CEO Larry Lucchino said: "I think he's certainly ready to be a general manager, either here or somewhere. He's got 40 years in baseball, and has evaluation skills at a very high level."

Robinson will meet with Padres owner John Moores next week.

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