Showalter still formulating plans for O's staff

Showalter still formulating plans for O's staff

BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter's preference in naming his coaching staff for 2011 is still "the sooner, the better," although he acknowledged on Monday afternoon that there is "nothing imminent" on that front.

Showalter, who was preparing to undergo knee surgery on Tuesday -- the first of two procedures planned in Texas -- anticipated speaking with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail on Monday night and indicated that the situation is still likely to be resolved prior to the World Series.

In the final days of the regular season, Showalter made it clear that he preferred to have next season's coaching staff in place quickly, both out of respect to the Orioles' current six-man staff and in solidifying the organization's personnel heading into the offseason.

While he has said previously that he has an exact a timetable in mind regarding the decision, Showalter has yet to give any specifics or elaborate on the factors responsible for dictating the process. Given this season's high volume of managerial dismissals -- with the Pirates, Mets and Brewers among those with a vacancy -- potential replacements could be in a state of flux, impeding what teams such as the Orioles do regarding their staff.

While there is a chance the Orioles' staff -- which currently includes hitting coach Terry Crowley, pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bench coach Jeff Datz, bullpen coach Alan Dunn, first-base coach John "T-Bone" Shelby and third-base coach Gary Allenson -- remains intact, it's far more likely, based on Showalter's previous track record, that he retains a portion of the group.

Former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, Rangers special assistant Mark Connor and Blue Jays third-base coach Brian Butterfield are all close friends of Showalter's and rumored to be in the mix. Showalter has also made it clear that he wants to retain the old "Oriole Way," making it plausible that he brings former players back into the organization in an official capacity.

While there has been speculation that Crowley -- who has been with the organization for two stints totaling 16 seasons -- will return, Showalter said on Monday he is not ready to make an official announcement regarding any part of his staff, and reiterated that nothing has been finalized.

For any announcement to be final, it will have to go through MacPhail, who maintains that it is Showalter's decision.

"I don't think [the front office] really ought to be dictating who the coaches are. I just don't think that's the way it should work," MacPhail said in an end-of-season interview with MLB.com. "We can voice our opinion and, in the end, we have the right to veto. But that coaching staff has got to be something the manager's comfortable with. He's got to parcel out the responsibilities.

"In the end, we don't want to put our spies down there. We just want people that he feels comfortable with, can instruct and teach our kids, and do the things that need to get done over the course of spring and summer."

In his second go-around, Crowley has been part of the Orioles organization for the past 12 seasons, while Kranitz, Shelby and Dunn just completed their third full seasons. Datz just wrapped up his first year in Baltimore, while Allenson started the season as Triple-A Norfolk's manager before being promoted to the big league club after Juan Samuel moved from third-base coach to interim manager in early June. Showalter addressed each member of the staff individually before heading back to Texas to let them each know where they stood, as they wait to hear if they have been retained.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.