DETROIT, OCT. 11 -- A week after the firing of General Manager Hank Peters, it appears the Baltimore Orioles will be reorganized by promoting three prominent men already in the organization.

Two baseball sources said tonight they've been told that coach Frank Robinson will be promoted to a front-office job that will carry the title of general manager. He would be major league baseball's first black general manager.

He wasn't available for comment today, but has met with owner Edward Bennett Williams about the job, sources said. Robinson won't have all the traditional responsibilities of a general manager, though, because Williams will have Lawrence Lucchino, already the team's chief counsel, in charge of contracts.

The new farm director would be Doug Melvin, 34, who has been Williams' special assistant for two years.

The only outsider the Orioles are expected to hire is Roy Krasik, who'll be assistant farm director. He recently resigned a similar job with the New York Yankees.

Williams wasn't available for comment and has said he might not have an announcement until after the World Series.

Third Start for Viola?

After Les Straker's poor performance in Game 3 (2 2/3 innings, five runs), Minnesota Twins Manager Tom Kelly is refusing to name a Game 6 starter. Straker is believed to be the leading candidate, although Kelly could switch to Joe Niekro. His No. 1 hope remains that Viola, the starter in Games 1 and 4, can come back to pitch Game 7.

The Twins were 45-28 in games that Bert Blyleven and Viola started this season, but 40-49 when anyone else started . . .

X-rays of Bill Madlock's sore right hand showed no break, but his availability for the rest of the series is in doubt. The Tigers originally acquired him because they were having so many problems hitting left-handed pitchers.

"I'm just thankful they've gone to only one left-hander {Dan Schatzeder} in their bullpen," Anderson said. "If they could hit us with lefty after lefty, we might have some serious problems." . . .

How bad are things going for Willie Hernandez? So bad that, after he was hit hard in Game 1 of the ALCS, Sparky Anderson called the Detroit area beat writers together and asked that they go easy on Hernandez, the reliever who won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards in 1984.

Anderson said he didn't do it to get the fans at Tiger Stadium off Hernandez's back because he's not even sure he'll use him here again this year. Instead, he said he simply wanted to remind people of Hernandez's past contributions to the Tigers.

"I've still got to have some compassion for this person," he said. "How can I take a guy who gave us everything in '84 and tell him, 'You're a piece of {expletive}?' "

He said his players should remember they couldn't have won the '84 World Series without Hernandez -- and the fans should remember, too.

"If he walks out to the mound in Detroit, they boo him as soon as he walks out there," Anderson said. "But he brought them the greatest thing, the thing they hadn't had in 16 years. Imagine what is going through the minds of the players in the other dugout and what's going through the minds of his own teammates."

But when Anderson brought Hernandez in to pitch to Don Baylor in Game 1, some of the Tigers wondered why. Privately, they wondered why he didn't simply stay with Mike Henneman.

In his last five appearances, Hernandez has faced nine hitters and gotten one out. The other eight? He gave up a three-run homer, two singles, two doubles, a triple and two walks.

Sheridan Not So Unlikely

Pat Sheridan might be a .261 career hitter and never have driven in more than 53 runs in a season, but his game-winning homer Saturday was his third big game in the American League playoffs.

In Game 2 of the 1985 Toronto-Kansas City series, Sheridan, then a Royal, hit a ninth-inning homer off Tom Henke to send the game into extra innings. Then in Game 7, he broke from a one-for-16 slump with a bunt single and bases-empty homer in a 6-2 victory.

Saturday's was especially special because he's a native of the Detroit suburb of Wayne and his dad used to take him to Tiger Stadium.

"I always got to sit behind the Tiger dugout," he said. "My dad knew an usher."