With his manager still in limbo, Orioles hitting coach Rick Down interviewed last night for a second time with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays and is one of five managerial candidates still under consideration.
The Devil Rays hope to announce the survivor this weekend after the other finalists -- Cleveland Indians scout Ted Simmons, Detroit Tigers bench coach Larry Parrish, Florida Marlins pitching coach Larry Rothschild and Marlins bench coach Jerry Manuel -- complete the interview process.
None of the finalists has major-league managing experience. Only Down, Parrish and Manuel have managed at any level.
"It's one of the few times that I've been involved in the process when my baseball credentials were as good if not better than anybody else's. I feel good about that," said Down, who met for nearly two hours with Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli and general manager Chuck LaMar.
Down makes no apology for the enthusiasm he brings to the process. While Simmons and Parrish are considered favorites, Down was described by a club official as the "wild-card" entry and made a strong impression on Naimoli.
Down also has connections with the start-up franchise. As vice president of player development and scouting with the New York Yankees, Devil Rays director of player development Bill Livsey oversaw Down's work when he managed Columbus to three consecutive first-place finishes in the International League.
Down has been close before, however. He was the choice of Anaheim Angels general manager Bill Bavasi last winter only to be vetoed by executives at parent Walt Disney Co.
Down also is seen as a possible successor to Davey Johnson should Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos ultimately decide to make a change. Johnson left his Winter Park, Fla., home Sunday night for a fishing vacation. It is unclear when he will next speak with Angelos.
Club sources say Angelos is preparing a document for Johnson to sign as a condition of returning next season. The document would include a de facto apology by Johnson for his handling of a $10,500 fine assessed second baseman Roberto Alomar. The fine was to be forwarded to a Baltimore charity that lists Johnson's wife, Susan, as a salaried fund-raiser.
While Angelos keeps Johnson waiting, he met yesterday with free-agent outfielder Brady Anderson. Anderson, who left for Europe shortly after the season ended, is scheduled to return there this week and beginning Monday may begin receiving contract offers from other teams. Angelos' last offer to Anderson was $22 million over four years; the center fielder believes the market will offer him at least $7 million a season.
Anderson's agent, Jeff Borris, said yesterday that he is in "utter disbelief" over the sluggish pace of talks between Angelos and his client. Six teams, including the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves, have expressed interest in Anderson.
Angelos will continue to handle negotiations with Anderson while general manager Pat Gillick apparently will assume talks with the Orioles' other leading free agent, closer Randy Myers.
Pub Date: 11/04/97