The Orioles officially began their search for a new hitting coach on Monday, when they interviewed two candidates in Baltimore, one of them being minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Manto.
In the process of replacing Jim Presley, who will not return as hitting coach in 2015 after four years in the position, the Orioles are still reaching out to possible candidates, according to a industry source.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he wants to have a hire in place by the time the winter meetings start Dec. 8.
Manto is the only internal candidate the Orioles plan to interview at the moment, according to a club source, but that could change. Einar Diaz, who the Orioles' assistant hitting coach, and Triple-A Norfolk manager Ron Johnson were given consideration, but the club isn't planning to interview either for the job, a source said.
The decision will be made by executive vice president Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and vice president Brady Anderson. All three were in Baltimore on Monday to conduct the first two interviews, but no more interviews are scheduled until after the Thanksgiving break.
One name that surfaced immediately as a possible fit was Rudy Jaramillo, who was Showalter's hitting coach when he managed the Texas Rangers. But the Orioles have yet to reach out to Jaramillo and at this point have no plans to interview him, according to a club source.
Former Orioles first baseman David Segui was given consideration, but he is not expected to be brought in for an interview.
The Orioles also contacted former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who was also mulling opportunities from other AL East clubs. While Manuel was believed to have given the Orioles' position the most consideration, the 70-year-old Manuel declined all offers, a club source said.
They also reached out to Jim Thome, who played for the Orioles at the end of the 2012 season, and Raul Ibanez, who is a finalist for the Tampa Bay Rays' managerial job. Former Orioles B.J. Surhoff and Anderson were also asked about the position. But they all eliminated themselves from the running because of the time commitment the job involved.
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As for Manto, he's thought of highly in the Orioles organization. He's a former big league hitting coach, holding the position with the Chicago White Sox in 2012 and 2013 and before that with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006 and 2007.
Manto has close ties with Orioles player development director Brian Graham, who managed Manto in Triple-A in the Cleveland Indians system and later hired him as the Pirates minor league hitting instructor.
One thing is for sure. Showalter's coaches must work at his pace, so the team's next hitting coach must be a dedicated worker who the team knows can handle the rigors of a 162-game season.
Navarro deal close
Free agent infielder Rey Navarro is expected to take his physical in Baltimore either Tuesday or Wednesday, according to an industry source. Assuming he passes, the 24-year-old middle infielder will be placed on the club's 40-man roster.
Navarro has never played in the majors, but batted .282 with 12 homers at Double-A and Triple-A last season in the Cincinnati Reds organization. The Orioles view him more as a second baseman than as a shortstop, his primary position in the minors.