Russell interviewed with manager Buck Showalter over the weekend in Baltimore and has yet to agree contractually, but according to the source, "All wheels are in motion." And as of Monday afternoon, it looks to be nearly a done deal. Russell is expected to speak with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who is in Orlando, Fla. for the General Managers Meetings, to hammer out details in the next few days.
Russell's hiring is not official and there is a chance he could be named third-base coach instead, depending on Showalter's final selection. Showalter would not confirm or deny that Russell will be part of his staff next season and has chosen to not comment on any of his coaches until the entire process is finished. MacPhail has also declined to comment until the entire staff is in place.
Russell was named manager of the Pirates on Nov. 5, 2007, but became one of three Major League managers dismissed a day after the '10 season ended. He finished with a record of 186-299 in Pittsburgh and is still under contract through '11, meaning that the Bucs will be responsible for paying the rest of his salary.
A former big league catcher, Russell brings the Major League coaching experience Showalter wanted as well as the expertise to work with young O's backstop Matt Wieters. Russell played part of 10 seasons in the Majors, including five with the Phillies, who selected him in the first round of the 1982 First-Year Player Draft.
Following his playing days, Russell managed in the Twins' and Phillies' Minor League systems before taking over the helm in Pittsburgh. He will be the fifth coach hired under Showalter, who will bring in Jim Presley (hitting coach), Mark Connor (pitching coach), Rick Adair (bullpen coach) and Wayne Kirby (first base/outfield).
The only remaining position to be filled is that of third-base coach, which could be filled by retaining Gary Allenson or bringing in another external candidate. Whoever fills the role will likely have an infield background, given that former leading candidate Juan Samuel, who was hired away by the Phillies, chose to decline the Orioles' offer, leaving Showalter without a specific infield coach.
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.