Orioles manager Buck Showalter was hoping to keep his 2012 coaching staff together for next season.
That didn't happen -- third-base coach DeMarlo Hale has left the organization to become the bench coach for John Gibbons in Toronto.
That means Showalter will have to find a new third-base/infielders coach. And although it's a move that won't mean much to the casual fan, Showalter has always championed it as an exceptionally important spot. He was thrilled when Hale joined the Orioles last winter and, consequently, expect Showalter to take his time again to find the right fit.
Here's a look at six potential candidates to replace Hale, though it is very early in the process. The order is probably interchangeable.
1. Bobby Dickerson, 47, has spent the past three seasons as the Orioles' minor league field coordinator and has received rave reviews for his work ethic and relationship with infield prospects. He gets a lot of credit for readying Manny Machado for the majors. Dickerson and Showalter go way back – Showalter managed a 21-year-old Dickerson with the 1987 Fort Lauderdale Yankees. Dickerson, who played minor league ball with the Orioles and Yankees, is also considered a good batting practice pitcher, which is part of the job description.
2. Rich Dauer, 60, could be the whole package. Dauer has deep ties to the organization – he was an Orioles infielder from 1976 to 1985 and went into the club's Hall of Fame this past season – and he has significant experience coaching third. He's held that position for 11 seasons with three different clubs (the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and the Colorado Rockies). Dauer spent the past four seasons as the Rockies' third-base coach, but he was dismissed in October after the sudden resignation of manager Jim Tracy. Showalter doesn't have any direct connections with Dauer, but he's always talked about linking these Orioles with the successful ones of the past, and Dauer played in 11 World Series games for the club in 1979 and 1983.
3. Steve Smith, 60, was Showalter's third-base coach during his tenure with the Texas Rangers. A well respected and fiery coach who also has six years on his resume as a Triple-A manager, Smith spent the past three seasons as the third-base coach with the Cleveland Indians, but he lost his job as part of the housecleaning there. Smith, a former minor league infielder, has mentored several Gold Glove infielders, including Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins. Smith is also known in reality TV circles. He and his daughter participated in CBS' 16th season of The Amazing Race. They finished sixth.
4. Mike Bordick, 47, would be the people's choice. The former Orioles infielder has served as the organization's minor league coordinator of offensive fundamentals, but last year he was primarily an in-game analyst for MASN. His name was mentioned before Hale was hired last offseason, and he also received credit for working with young infielders such as Machado. But he's never been a third-base coach before. One possibility would be giving him the first-base coaching job and moving Wayne Kirby to third.
5. Don Wakamatsu, 49, nearly was with the Orioles after the 2010 season as bench coach, but the former Seattle Mariners manager chose to take that position with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now that spot has been filled by Hale, and it's possible Wakamatsu could re-join Showalter, for whom he worked as bench coach in Texas. Wakamatsu has some experience as a third-base coach, serving in the spot in 2007 with the Rangers. The one negative is that he's a former catcher and doesn't specialize in coaching infielders.
6. Brian Graham, 52, is pretty entrenched as the organization's coordinator of minor league instruction. But he has worn so many hats – even interim general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates – that there's little doubt the former minor league infielder could succeed as a coach in the big leagues. He's coached in the majors before -- with Cleveland from 1998-99 and the Orioles when he was the "eye in the sky" or offensive/defensive coordinator under Mike Hargrove in 2000. The Orioles probably would prefer him remaining in his current position.