CLEVELAND -- Davey Johnson will get a three-year contract to become the next manager of the Orioles, according to a National League source, and he has been busy piecing together his coaching staff for next year, which could include a handful of his old Orioles teammates.
Former Orioles pitcher Pat Dobson is the strong front-runner to be the pitching coach for Johnson, who is expected to ask permission to interview San Diego Padres hitting coach Merv Rettenmund. If permission is denied, then Mike Easler, already signed to be a minor-league hitting instructor with the Orioles, likely will be Johnson's hitting coach.
John Stearns, who served under Johnson with Cincinnati last year, likely will be part of the staff, although it is not known exactly what his role would be. Johnson also has indicated he is considering Andy Etchebarren, a manager in the Orioles' minor-league system, for a job. He is expected to retain Elrod Hendricks, the Orioles' longtime bullpen coach.
Some background on each coaching candidate:
* Dobson, 53, who pitched two years for the Orioles, has worked as an advance scout for the Colorado Rockies the last three years. Before that, he was a pitching coach for the Padres and Kansas City Royals. If not Dobson, Johnson could consider Mel Stottlemyre, his pitching coach with the New York Mets.
* Rettenmund, 52, has been the hitting coach of the Padres for five years, and is widely regarded as one of the best. NL batting champion Tony Gwynn of San Diego refers to Rettenmund as "The Man."
The Orioles received permission to talk to Rettenmund after the aborted 1994 season, but they couldn't agree on contract terms, and Rettenmund signed a two-year deal with an option for 1997. Considering how strongly Rettenmund is valued in the San Diego organization, and that the Orioles had to agree to a list of restrictions to talk to GM candidate Randy Smith -- who already had resigned -- getting permission this year could be very difficult or costly. Rettenmund played six years for the Orioles ('68-'73).
* Easler, 44, was well-liked by Boston players when he served as batting coach for the Red Sox; All-Star first baseman Mo Vaughn considers Easler a mentor. However, the Red Sox dumped Easler last spring after he refused to work with replacement players.
* Stearns, 44, played 11 years in the majors, 10 with the Mets.
* Etchebarren, 52, who spent most of his 15-year major-league career as a catcher with the Orioles, has managed the O's Bluefield club the last three years. He spent seven seasons with Milwaukee as a major-league coach.
The club may announce the hiring of Johnson tomorrow, an off day for the World Series. But more likely, the Orioles will wait until the World Series is over.
While the hiring of their next manager is "imminent" -- to use Johnson's word -- the Orioles continue to sift through candidates for general manager. Former Montreal GM Kevin Malone continues to be the front-runner, but Boston assistant general manager Mike Port had a good two-hour interview yesterday with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and club counsel Russell Smouse.
"From my perspective, I would say it was positive and time well spent," said Port, who will interview with the Houston Astros today. "But that's in my perspective. It's Mr. Angelos' perspective that counts."
He indicated Angelos said he would get back to him by the weekend or early next week.
The Orioles are expected to talk to others, such as Atlanta Braves scout Bill Lajoie; former New York Yankees GM Gene Michael and Joe Klein, the Baltimore native who is expected to be ousted as Detroit Tigers GM today. Hiring Malone and Johnson would give the Orioles two NL refugees, so Klein could be a candidate as assistant GM to provide the club with a strong AL background, assuming Frank Robinson works out some kind of deal with the Padres.
The club must address a couple of personnel decisions shortly.
Within five days after the World Series, the Orioles must inform relievers Doug Jones and Jesse Orosco if they intend to pick up their respective options for 1996, Jones for $1.3 million and Orosco for $500,000.
Club officials indicate that Orosco will be retained. But the decision on Jones is going to be tougher, because of the amount of money involved and the fact that Jones had mixed results in 1995.
One member of the organization indicated that whether or not a general manager is hired in time to affect those decisions, a consensus will be drawn from a variety of sources, including club reports.
Jones said Tuesday he asked his agent to call the Orioles to get an idea of what they have in mind. "He didn't get anywhere," Jones said. "They're working on other things. Peter Angelos has some decisions to make."