The Seattle Mariners today fired Chuck Cottier, their manager since Sept. 1, 1984, and named coach Marty Martinez interim manager.
But Dick Williams apparently was on his way to Seattle to take the job. Ozzie Virgil, formerly Williams' third base coach in San Diego and Montreal, said he was already preparing to move to Seattle.
"We're going up there to work," Virgil said by telphone from his home in Phoenix. "Dick and I are both going to Seattle tomorrow [Friday] morning. I will have my same job as third base coach. Dick and I were in Montreal together. You know Montreal had a young team. Dick and I did the same thing in San Diego. We can do it again in Seattle."
Chuck Armstrong, president of the Mariners, indicated only that the club had decided on Cottier's successor, but hadn't concluded negotiations.
"All the i's are not dotted and t's are not crossed with the person we hope to name," he said. "We hope to get a manager with a proven winning record at the major-league level with a variety of different clubs. We feel the need to go out and get someone who has won before."
Neither Cottier nor Williams could be reached for comment. Williams quit the San Diego Padres during spring training.
The Associated Press said Cottier learned he'd been fired when a clubhouse attendant told him to clean out his locker because Williams was taking over.
In Seattle, Armstrong said he fired Cottier because the team's sixth-place standing in the AL West "is far below our expectations." The Mariners, who had hoped to contend this season, have lost eight of their last 10 games.
In Chicago, life was even more confused for Tony LaRussa. He remained manager of the Chicago White Sox while his boss, Ken Harrelson, talked to agent Ed Sapir about client Billy Martin taking over the team. Harrelson, chief of baseball operations for the White Sox, met with Sapir today and they plan to meet again Friday.
"All we did is agree to talk again," Sapir said. "I don't know if Billy is going to be manager of the White Sox."
Cottier, 50, was an infielder for Washington's expansion Senators in 1961-65. He took over the Mariners on an interim basis when Del Crandall was fired and earned a managerial contract when his team closed 15-12.