The Baltimore Orioles concluded the interview stage of their managerial search today, meeting with former Orioles first baseman and current bench coach Eddie Murray, the last of nine candidates to talk with the search committee. An announcement on the Orioles' new manager could come this weekend.

The search committee--executive vice president John Angelos, chairman's representative Louis Angelos, director of player personnel Syd Thrift, director of scouting Tony DeMacio and director of player development Tom Trebelhorn--was expected to begin deliberating tonight or Tuesday. Once a consensus is reached, the chosen candidate will meet with majority owner Peter Angelos.

The Orioles will hold off an announcement until after the World Series, adhering to a baseball tradition that prevents teams from making major announcements during the Series.

The other eight candidates are Dodgers bullpen coach Rick Dempsey, Orioles first-base coach Marv Foley, Reds bench coach Ken Griffey Sr., former Indians manager Mike Hargrove, Red Sox bench coach Grady Little, Phillies hitting coach Hal McRae, Orioles third-base coach Sam Perlozzo and former Cubs manager Jim Riggleman.

Murray, 43, has made known his interest in succeeding Ray Miller as Orioles manager. Miller was dismissed Oct. 6 after a second straight losing season. Although Murray has no minor or major league managing experience, he is managing the Scottsdale Scorpions in the developmental Arizona Fall League.

Murray, one of the Orioles' most popular players, would be an intriguing and perhaps unconventional choice. He is almost universally respected within the game, but has had a rocky relationship with the media, marked by long periods of silence on Murray's part.

Earlier this season, Murray said he didn't think his dealings with the media would present any problems as a manager. "Hopefully, the media knows how to look at a game," he said, "and there should be very few questions."

Earlier this month, Orioles right fielder Albert Belle endorsed Murray's candidacy in a radio interview. The search committee might decide that Murray's intimidating demeanor and ability to command respect would be the best way to deal with a veteran clubhouse loaded with disparate personalities.

Orioles veteran Cal Ripken on Sunday declined to endorse a candidate and said his opinion has been neither offered nor solicited. But he said he disagrees with characterizations of the clubhouse as fractious.

"I think last year's group of guys was one of the best groups of guys I've ever been around," Ripken said. "Sometimes people automatically assume that energy and being available to play every day is part of being youthful. But our guys wanted to play every single game and came to the ballpark ready to play."

Still, Ripken said, "I would think the challenges and responsibilities are different with [a veteran] type of club. But I don't think it's any more than that."

While the Orioles' managerial search enters its final stages, the team still has no firm plans to begin pursuing a replacement for general manager Frank Wren, who was fired Oct. 7. With the free agent signing period less than two weeks away and with several teams expressing interest in making trades with the Orioles, Thrift has become the point man on all player-personnel matters.

Thrift will lead a three- or four-man Orioles delegation to baseball's GM meetings, which will begin Nov. 7 in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Although the Orioles still intend to fill Wren's position--the title likely will become director of baseball operations--the team is more intent in the short term on using its current brain trust to run the team.