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Officially, Expos Up, Running In District

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 14, 2004; Page D08

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 13 -- Team headquarters for now is a humble hotel room in downtown D.C., but the new Washington baseball franchise -- technically still known as the Expos until a new name is chosen -- is officially up and running in the District, team president Tony Tavares said Wednesday.

Tavares and Kevin Uhlich, who was Tavares's chief operating officer when both worked for the Anaheim Angels and who is serving as an outside consultant for the Expos, arrived in Washington on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday began getting the team's business operations up and running.

Frank Robinson has expressed a desire to have a significant role with the team -- either in an ownership group, in the front office or in the manager's office. (Andre Pichette - AP)

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A separate staff, headed by executive vice president of business affairs Claude Delorme, remains in Montreal, overseeing the franchise's departure from that city after 35 years.

Tavares, who was appointed by Major League Baseball to run the Expos when the league bought them before the 2002 season, will remain in his role of team president on an interim basis until the team is sold. Baseball officials have said they hope to have the sale completed before the end of the year.

Tavares said his immediate focus is on putting together a sales staff to begin selling tickets and corporate sponsorships. Although the team remains without a general manager -- following Omar Minaya's decision to accept a similar position last month with the New York Mets -- Tavares said it could be weeks before one is hired.

"That's not pressing right now, as crazy as that sounds," Tavares said. "Getting up and running with a sales staff is what's pressing. Normally, a GM wouldn't be hired until after the World Series anyway. We're running on a timetable consistent with that."

Tavares declined to address the status of Manager Frank Robinson, whose contract, like that of most Expos employees, expired after the season. Robinson has expressed a desire to have a significant role with the team -- either in an ownership group, in the front office or in the manager's office.

"I'm looking to answer the GM question first, and leave [the question of the team's manager] to whomever has that role," Tavares said.

According to Tavares, contracts for the team's scouting, player-development and minor league staffs have been renewed.

Former Baltimore Orioles GM Pat Gillick has emerged as a leading candidate for the Washington team's GM job, but Tavares said he has not yet spoken to any potential candidates. Gillick has expressed public interest in the position, even if it is on an interim basis while MLB sells the franchise.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company