Orioles third base coach Sam Perlozzo yesterday received his second interview in 10 days with majority owner Peter Angelos, suggesting that the club is seriously considering an internal option in selecting its next manager.
Chief operating officer Joe Foss has refused to disclose any deadline for naming the successors to ousted manager Ray Miller and general manager Frank Wren, but he did say during last week's organizational meetings in Lakeland, Fla., that he hoped a manager could be found by Oct. 31.
Coincidentally, that is also the date that Perlozzo's contract expires, along with bench coach Eddie Murray, first base coach Marv Foley and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks. Pitching coach Bruce Kison is signed through next season, though his status within the major-league staff remains vague.
Hitting coach Terry Crowley has been assured he will be retained regardless of who becomes the next manager.
Foley interviewed with Angelos on Saturday, but has since left Baltimore for his Florida home. No indication has been given whether he will receive a second interview. Murray, now managing the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, is also seeking an interview and has received the endorsement of right fielder Albert Belle.
The Orioles are believed to have interest in Boston Red Sox bullpen coach Grady Little, Atlanta Braves hitting coach Don Baylor and former Chicago Cubs manager Jim Riggleman. Baylor may not interview before the Braves' postseason is done.
Little possesses extensive minor-league managerial experience and has served as a major-league coach with the Red Sox and San Diego Padres.
A leading candidate of both Wren and Thrift, Little spoke at length with Thrift during the Red Sox's season-ending three-game series at Camden Yards.
Orioles officials did not return phone calls yesterday.
Barring the naming of Perlozzo or Foley, it is unlikely any announcement regarding the managerial vacancy will come this week. If no hiring occurs before Saturday, an announcement regarding either vacancy would likely wait until after the World Series, as mandated by Major League Baseball's central office.
Perlozzo, 48, has spent the last four seasons in Baltimore as third base coach, making him one of only two holdovers from the Davey Johnson regime and the second-longest tenured staff member after Hendricks. The Orioles' infield and base-running coach, as well, Perlozzo has spent 13 consecutive seasons in the third base box with the Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Seattle Mariners and New York Mets.
Before joining Johnson's Mets staff in 1987, Perlozzo managed five years in the Mets' farm system, winning three league titles.
"The players respect Sammy," said one team member. "He knows the game. He knows how to work with players. He knows how to work, period."
The Cumberland resident was responsible for organizing spring training during Miller's two seasons as manager. Perlozzo also assisted Cal Ripken's transition from shortstop to third base in 1997 and was credited by Miller for the team's major-league record of 81 errors in 1998.
Perlozzo has long awaited a managerial job, but never campaigned for one. His Oct. 9 interview with Angelos was his first for a manager's post.
Two philosophies accompany the Orioles' dual searches. One believes that the club needs to import a manager "with presence" from outside the organization in order to reestablish a uniform set of team rules and discipline.
During the final weeks of Miller's regime, there was only lax enforcement of rules, including dress codes, stretching time and deadline for being dressed. A ban on facial hair other than moustaches evaporated with Belle's arrival.
The right fielder was likewise permitted to take batting practice apart from the team -- with his brother Terry present -- while wearing a warm-up lacking his uniform number. The front office granted some of the waivers.
A contrasting view held by many within the organization prefers the promotion of a coach as Miller's successor and assistant general manager Bruce Manno to follow Wren. Angelos cited such continuity when he installed Miller as Johnson's replacement in November 1997.
Manno is expected to interview as Wren's successor; meanwhile, Thrift has received de facto responsibilities as general manager/director of baseball operations.
Angelos has tried a first-time major-league manager before without success. The hiring of Phil Regan in 1995 became a disaster, resulting in his firing immediately after a 71-73 season.
Former Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove said Monday night that he would be interested in interviewing with Angelos. The Indians fired Hargrove last Friday when the club followed its fifth consecutive AL Central title by blowing a 2-0 lead to the Red Sox in the Division Series.