Randolph's hiring as bench coach completes Orioles' 2011 coaching staff

Manager Buck Showalter finally completed his 2011 staff Tuesday by selecting a bench coach who spent years battling the Orioles at Memorial Stadium.

Looking for a quality infield instructor with the added bonus of managerial experience, Showalter hired an old friend, former New York Mets manager Willie Randolph. It's a reunion of sorts for Showalter, who gave Randolph his first big league coaching job with the New York Yankees in 1994.

"It's kind of surreal in a way; as a young coach, I learned the ropes as a third base coach under Buck Showalter," said Randolph, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Orioles after spending two seasons as bench coach with the Milwaukee Brewers. "It's weird how things work out. We stayed in touch over the years, but not constant touch. But there has always been a mutual respect, and he knows what I bring to the table."

Randolph, 56, joins a staff rife with experience. Another former manager, John Russell, who was fired in October after three years at the helm of the Pittsburgh Pirates, will be Showalter's third base coach.

Mark Connor, who has been with Showalter at all four of his managerial stops, is the pitching coach, and Rick Adair, the former Seattle Mariners pitching coach, will handle bullpen duties. Jim Presley, who most recently was the hitting coach for the Florida Marlins, will take on the same role with the Orioles, and Wayne Kirby, a former major league outfielder who has spent nine years instructing in the minors, will be the first base/outfield coach.

Kirby is the only one of the six who has never coached in the majors; the others have spent at least six seasons each on big league staffs. The group, which includes no holdovers from last season, was officially announced Tuesday after nearly two months of speculation.

Randolph is the headliner.

A six-time All-Star second baseman in an 18-season big league career, Randolph spent 13 years with the New York Yankees, battling some great Orioles teams in the late 1970s and 1980s. He played 160 career games against the Orioles — practically a full season — and hit .272 with a .391 on-base percentage and 93 runs in those American League East contests.

He knows that to some Orioles fans he'll always be a Yankee.

"I appreciated my time in New York. I am a New Yorker … but that's not what defines me as a person," said Randolph, who lives in New Jersey. "I have tremendous respect for [the Orioles]. I remember back in the day, you couldn't get a ticket there. It was one of the most exciting places for me, and I hope to be a part of rekindling that excitement. When I put on that uniform, I will be part of them. And [the fans] can be assured of that."

As part of his duties, Randolph will also be the Orioles' infield instructor, a position he held in Milwaukee the past two seasons. While there, he was given credit for helping Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks improve defensively.

"That's probably been as rewarding as anything for me, working with the young infielders and the older guys, the ones who have been around for a while," Randolph said. "That's what I really look forward to each and every day."

Randolph was the New York Mets manager from 2005 to 2008, compiling a 302-253 record (.544 winning percentage) that included a 97-win team in 2006 that lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series. Randolph said he wants to manage again one day, but that's not on his mind.

"Even though you aspire to manage, that's always such a crapshoot, and you really have to be fortunate," Randolph said. "I've never made it any secret that hopefully I'll manage again, but I am the bench coach of the Baltimore Orioles right now, and my total energy will go toward that."

Uehara, Millwood not offered arbitration

The Orioles decided not to offer arbitration to any of their seven free agents, including pitchers Koji Uehara and Kevin Millwood.

Both were considered Type B free agents, meaning that if the Orioles offered them arbitration and they declined and signed elsewhere, the Orioles would receive a compensatory pick after the first round of the 2011 amateur draft.

There was concern, however, that the pitchers would agree to arbitration and could be costly to retain. An independent arbitrator chooses the team's offering or the player's, and there's no middle ground.

The Orioles want Uehara back, but presumably at a lower salary than his $5 million last season. The 35-year-old right-hander was 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 43 games. He excelled in the closer's role, saving 13 of 15 chances. But an inability to stay healthy is a concern. The club will continue to talk to Uehara about a new deal, likely him offering a one-year contract with incentives.

"It doesn't preclude us from continuing the negotiations," said Andy MacPhail, the Orioles' president of baseball operations. "We'd just rather not do it with a backdrop of an arbitration hearing."

Millwood, 35, was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 games for the Orioles. He made $12 million last season in the final year of a five-year deal he signed with the Texas Rangers. The Orioles haven't ruled out bringing him back, but that scenario is unlikely. The Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals are among teams with interest in Millwood.

The Orioles' other free agents — Ty Wigginton, Cesar Izturis, Julio Lugo, Mark Hendrickson and Corey Patterson — did not qualify for potential compensatory picks.

O's, Rupe agree to terms

The Orioles agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Josh Rupe on a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training.

Rupe, 28, made 11 appearances for the Royals in 2010, going 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA and allowing 14 hits and seven walks in 92/3 innings. He spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Omaha, compiling a 2-4 record, a 2.90 ERA and 10 saves.

He's very familiar with Showalter, having made his major league debut with the Rangers in 2005. He is expected to start the 2011 season at Triple-A Norfolk.

Komminsk, Hocking likely on move

With the big league coaching staff completed, Orioles director of player development John Stockstill will begin to finalize the affiliates' staffs.

Gary Allenson, the Orioles' third base coach for the final four months of the 2010 season, will return to managing Norfolk. His staff is expected to include Brad Komminsk, who has managed Double-A Bowie the past three seasons. Komminsk likely will be the Tides' hitting coach.

Former major leaguer Denny Hocking, who was the field coach for Single-A Frederick, will be promoted to Bowie, though his coaching role hasn't been defined. The Orioles are expected to fill Komminsk's spot at Bowie internally.

No bid on Nishioka

The Orioles' search for a shortstop likely will not include Japanese player Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Bids for the Chiba Lotte Marines infielder were accepted until Tuesday afternoon, and the Orioles did not offer one, according to multiple sources. The club first would have to win the posting rights before negotiating with Nishioka, a 26-year-old switch-hitter who had a league-leading .346 average in Japan in 2010. Although the Orioles scouted Nishioka and had interest, they felt that there are better options in the majors.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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