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Looking at what's next for the Orioles and Dan Duquette

Looking at what's next for the Orioles and Dan Duquette
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, left, and manager Buck Showalter talk during a practice at the American League Division Series in October. (Paul Sancya, Associated Press)

Hours before the Toronto Blue Jays announced Monday that they were retaining team president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston for the upcoming season -- ending their pursuit of Dan Duquette for that post, at least for now -- the Orioles executive vice president was lauding his latest reclamation project.

The Orioles began the week by announcing three minor league signings, including former first-round pick Chris Parmelee. The team also settled with right-hander Bud Norris on his 2015 contract to avoid arbitration. It felt like what a normal offseason day would be like before the Orioles' world was spun off its axis when Duquette was first linked to the Toronto job at last month's winter meetings.

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But is it back to business as usual in the Warehouse?

Well, at least we've heard from the Blue Jays, who officially announced that Beeston will stay for 2015 and then retire after the season, allowing the club more time to find his successor. Hopefully, the Blue Jays, who are owned by one of the largest communications companies in Canada, can plot a more tactical path this time. They botched this one from the beginning.

We still need to hear from Duquette on the situation, especially since it's well known that he coveted the Blue Jays job. But as much as skeptical Orioles fans can pick Duquette apart for his perceived lack of loyalty, we must remember that the Toronto job would have been a promotion for Duquette. Presented with the same situation, how many of us would have at least wanted to pursue it?

Orioles managing partner Peter G. Angelos was firm in initially saying that Duquette wasn't getting out of his contract, which runs through 2018, but he softened on that stance. But if the Orioles were going to consider allowing Duquette out of his contract, they were determined to receive what they felt was a suitable compensation package. And the sides were never close on agreeing to that.

Duquette now has to pick up the pieces, claim allegiance to the Orioles and show fans that he's committed to building a winner in 2015 and beyond. And he shouldn't wait until Saturday's FanFest event to do that. There's no better time for that than now.

He'll also have to mend fences within the Orioles organization, where some didn't know whether Duquette was staying or going.

Yes, the Orioles haven't done much this offseason, but they also hadn't done much at this time last year. At that point, the signing of nontendered reliever Ryan Webb was their biggest offseason move. Sure, the Orioles went on to sign right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and outfielder-designated hitter Nelson Cruz in the first days of spring training last season. And yes, those options are out there this year on the free-agent market.

Duquette wouldn't comment on the Toronto situation Monday afternoon, but he said the Orioles were still working on adding a left-handed-hitting outfielder, which has been the team's top offseason priority.

Duquette must also work on endearing himself to Orioles fans again. Acting like this whole situation never happened would would be unwise. As finicky as fans can be, the Orioles' fan base is a knowledgable one. Orioles fans believe in loyalty and hold their own close. That's why every home game, they take pictures of themselves by those bronze statues of Frank, Brooks, Earl, Jim, Eddie and Cal. They're a "you're either with us or you're not" bunch.

Meanwhile, the possibility of the Orioles filing tampering charges against the Blue Jays still exists. Some in the Orioles' organization believe they have a strong case, but it can be debated whether Major League Baseball would agree. The organization will have to decide whether extending a difficult situation with more dirty laundry is worth it.

Maybe this is the time to think back to the circumstances that brought Duquette and the Orioles together in the first place a little more than three years ago. The Orioles had just recorded their 14th straight losing season and Duquette was trying to get back into the game after being ignored for years.

In some ways, they both took a leap of faith in each other.

And now -- after three winning seasons, two playoff runs and a division title -- they'll have to do it again.

eencina@baltsun.com

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