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Orioles give Klein second GM look Former Tigers official appears to gain stature


The Orioles haven't rendered the verdict on their next general manager yet, but there is circumstantial evidence that former Detroit Tigers GM Joe Klein is a strong candidate.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos and club counsel Russell Smouse met with Klein for more than two hours Monday night. Previously, Klein interviewed separately with Angelos and Smouse, and made a strong first impression.

Klein, 53, is the second candidate among the seven who've interviewed with the Orioles to be brought back for a second round of talks. Two weeks ago, former Montreal Expos general manager Kevin Malone flew into Baltimore to meet with Angelos and Smouse for a second interview.

Angelos has said in the past that he wants his next general manager to have a strong background in scouting and player development, and Klein has a long history of labors with and within the minor leagues. Klein, raised in Baltimore, also has been the general manager of the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians.

Klein generally is given good marks by his peers for his work with Detroit, but may have been a victim of circumstance. Tigers president John McHale fired Klein after hiring San Diego Padres GM Randy Smith, who previously had worked with McHale when both were with the Colorado Rockies.

Klein's background in the American League also may give him an advantage over Malone, who has worked in the National League in recent years. (However, the value of experience in one league or the other has diminished greatly in the last decade, with saturation television coverage and computerized scouting reports.)

The Orioles also may be considering former O's scouting director John Barr, now the scouting director for the New York Mets.

As Angelos has been searching for a general manager, Orioles farm director Syd Thrift has assumed responsibility for the administrative work usually addressed by a GM. For instance, it was Thrift who informed Jesse Orosco that the Orioles were picking up his option for next year, and who informed Doug Jones that his option would not be exercised.

Most clubs have been contacting free agents to begin cursory discussions, but, according to Orioles sources, the club will wait until a GM is named before pursuing free agents. Two agents indicated last week that delay, in all likelihood, won't hurt the Orioles. Because the Orioles are one of the game's big spenders, free agents would want to give them every opportunity to join in the bidding.

Once a GM is named, the Orioles are expected to talk to free agents such as Roberto Alomar -- who told one friend he'd sign with them for a three-year, $15 million deal -- and Craig Biggio, Eddie Murray, Randy Myers and Ron Gant.

The coaching staff of Orioles manager Davey Johnson is likely to be named after a general manager is announced. Today, the Seattle Mariners will announce members of their coaching staff -- which won't include Sam Perlozzo, the third base coach for manager Lou Piniella in 1995. Perlozzo is expected to become Johnson's third base coach.

NOTES: The Orioles, who will not change ticket prices for the 1996 season, announced that fans will get their first chance to buy individual game tickets at the "First Pitch of '96" on Dec. 9 at Camden Yards. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and concession stands and the Orioles Baseball Store will be open.

Season-ticket holders now can finance the purchase of their plans through NationsBank. A letter from the bank accompanies renewal forms being sent to season-ticket holders this week.

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