One season into his new job as the Orioles' first base coach, Carlos Bernhardt is returning to the Dominican Republic to serve again as director of scouting and oversee the club's year-round player development program.
Bernhardt, 48, who lives with his wife and three teen-age children in San Pedro de Macoris, had spent his first 13 years in the organization as scouting supervisor in the Dominican. He signed more than 200 players, including reliever Armando Benitez. Bernhardt also managed the Orioles' Dominican summer-league entry until manager Ray Miller added him to the major-league staff in January.
His presence in the clubhouse was deemed important, in part, because of his close friendship with Benitez and Roberto Alomar, a player whose relationship with the organization had become strained last year because of differences with then-manager Davey Johnson. But Alomar is expected to leave as a free agent this off-season, and Benitez could be traded after struggling as the closer.
Yesterday's move represents the second change in the Orioles' coaching staff in nine days. On Oct. 6, Rick Down was replaced as hitting coach by Terry Crowley.
"While this is a loss for my staff, it's the right move for the Orioles' organization," said Miller. "Carlos has proven how valuable he is to us as a presence in the Dominican Republic and I believe that he will now have an even greater knowledge of the talent that we're seeking."
The club won't address a replacement for Bernhardt, who signed a three-year contract, until hiring a general manager, a move that might not come until after the World Series. One scenario would be leaving the staff at its present number and having bench coach Eddie Murray assume Bernhardt's duties.
"I'm going to sit on it for a while until the new GM gets here," Miller said. "I don't know if we'll go with the normal amount of coaches or replace him or what. I'm going to wait and see what we do with our team first. Hopefully we'll get a new GM here sometime soon."
Bernhardt, who regards himself "like a soldier to the organization," said he was willing to go wherever the club felt he was most needed.
"You know why? Because I'll be getting paid," he said. "As long as I'm working, as long as I'm alive and can make decent money to support my family, that's what I'm supposed to do."
Bernhardt admitted it was difficult being so far from home this season. He would be watching a movie alone, see "one of those beautiful moments shared by a family," and ache. He also went through the trauma of not being able to contact his wife and children for about a week after Hurricane Georges ripped through his hometown last month.
"I always do whatever they ask me to do, but when you're away from your wife and three kids for six, seven months, it's tough. But it's something you do to support your family. And I've got two kids going to college and a third one in her last year of high school," he said.
"You have to adapt. There were times when I was very down, but I don't show this to anybody because I'm very grateful to this organization."
Bernhardt will be kept busy. The Orioles also are checking sites in the Dominican, where a team-owned and operated complex (( soon will be constructed to house a year-round training program for young players.
"This complex further establishes our commitment to player development efforts in Latin America," said farm director Syd Thrift. "Carlos is a proven top producer as a scout and an instructor with our Dominican players, and this enhances his opportunities to showcase his talents."
Pub Date: 10/16/98