BALTIMORE, NOV. 11 -- On his first full day of work with the Baltimore Orioles, new general manager Roland Hemond bounced from meeting to meeting, braved the elements to appear live on two Baltimore television stations and, finally, retired to his room at a downtown hotel.
He said his former boss, Bill Veeck, had trained him to survive on four hours' sleep, and he has put that training into practice. A day earlier, he had been introduced by owner Edward Bennett Williams at a two-hour news conference, then went directly into a meeting with what Williams calls "the new Oriole cabinet." That meeting lasted for more than four hours and included a late working dinner.
Meanwhile, there was something resembling a festive atmosphere all around Memorial Stadium, from the bubbly new boss to the excited new farm director to the anticipation that, after getting progressively worse for four consecutive seasons, things finally might have turned around.
"I don't know where we are now," an Orioles official said, "but I know where we were -- 26th out of 26."
While Williams talked about a one- or two-year turnaround, at least one member of his new front office planned to tell him not to be surprised if it takes a year or two longer. Asked why he hadn't already given those opinions to Williams, the official said, "One thing at a time. He'll be involved enough that he may not have to be told. He'll see that no one is banging down our door to make trades."
The Orioles' next important decision will be selecting a coaching staff, which was the subject of a meeting with Hemond, Manager Cal Ripken Sr. and farm director Doug Melvin today.
With Frank Robinson being promoted to the front office, at least one new coach will be hired, and the leading candidate appears to be former Orioles star outfielder Al Bumbry.
Bumbry is under contract to the Boston Red Sox until Dec. 31 and has been offered a job on their major league staff next season. However, he hasn't yet accepted it, and while he won't say it directly, appears to be waiting for the Orioles to phone.
He already had heard from former general manager Hank Peters, "but that was about a minor league job," Bumbry said. "There wouldn't be any sense in taking that if I could join the major league staff with the Red Sox."
Ripken said Tuesday he would like for the rest of his coaching staff to return, but people who've talked to him privately have gotten a different feeling. It appears hitting coach Terry Crowley and pitching coach Mark Wiley might be replaced, although Wiley has many supporters within the organization. If Wiley is fired or reassigned, bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks probably would become the pitching coach.
Almost lost in Tuesday's announcements was that shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. had signed only a one-year contract. But sources inside and outside the organization denied that his taking only a one-year deal had anything to do with his dad, the manager, also getting a one-year contract.
"The two contracts were in no way related," said Ron Shapiro, the Baltimore attorney who represents Ripken Jr. "In the end, we asked for it because we couldn't reach an agreement on a two-year deal, which is what we'd been talking about. With the deadline upon us, we decided on going for one year."
He added, "Cal Jr. is fond of his father, but the bottom line was that he didn't want to go into the marketplace."
Ripken's contract is believed to be worth $1.7 million and increases a payroll that already was the sixth-highest in the major leagues.
That payroll might keep Williams out of the free agent market, meaning the emphasis on turning around the Orioles will be left to Hemond's ability to trade for pitching, and player development. Williams will spend about $150,000 to field a second Class A team, and Melvin already has fired five of the 15 scouts who worked for his predecessor, Tom Giordano.