Baltimore Orioles: Bench Coach John Russell Still with O’s


Jul 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (right) and bench coach John Russell (left) during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles bench coach John Russell was thought to be a candidate in contention for the open managerial position in Minnesota, though the job has gone to Paul Molitor. All along it was presumed that Molitor had the inside track for the position.

Russell was a manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Showalter often speaks of his esteem for the value that he provides. Frequently when watching Orioles games, one can see Buck turn to Russell for a discussion presumably about pitching options and upcoming matchups, etc. It is the task of the bench coach to be thinking ahead and providing an extra set of eyes and thoughts about strategic moves to be made.

Though Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles organization would not stand in the way of staff pursuing any great opportunities that came their way, clearly it is good to hold together a winning and functioning team if possible.

Molitor is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, actually graduating from the same high school as Joe Mauer. Finishing his career with the 10th-most hits in baseball history (3,319 with a .306 average), he played a total of 21 seasons – 15 with the Brewers, three with the Blue Jays (including a World Series in 1993), and the final three with the Twins.

I’ll always especially remember Molitor as the MVP of the 1993 series against the Phillies. He was a total hitting machine, going 12-for-24 with two homers and eight RBIs.

John Kruk was the scruffy first baseman for the Phils that year, and it was at that time that his folksy, one-liner personality was becoming known to the public.

This was the season of the nightmare relief pitching by “The Wild Thing” Mitch Williams. It was difficult to watch. Kruk told a story on the David Letterman Show about how Molitor was leading off first base in a critical moment late in the game with the stadium rocking, and he said to Kruk, “Man, ain’t this great!” … to which Kruk responded, “I’m not actually having a lot of fun right now!”

More from Baltimore Orioles

In other recent manager news, AL East nemesis opponent manager

Joe Maddon

has agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Though I always hated looking at Maddon on the top step of the Rays dugout, moving his crazy defensive shifts around, I respect him as a great baseball mind and manager.

The Cubs have a number of fine young players, an improving pitching staff, and some money to spend. Even though they have not won since I was a boy in 1908, and though some folks believe there is a curse against them, let me tell you now that this is going to change under the leadership of Joe Maddon. You heard it first right here.

But it will be interesting to see how the changes in Tampa Bay will be reflected on the field and throughout the organization in coming years. There simply is not a sufficient fanbase or corporate partnership culture in that area to support a baseball team. It is amazing they have done so well with so little. Will it continue?