Mazzone has one year left on his contract with the Braves, but the Orioles have an advantage in manager Sam Perlozzo, who is close friends with Mazzone, and the two have talked about working together for years. Mazzone has been credited with fostering the great pitching staffs of the Braves over the past 15 years, a steady presence sitting next to manager Bobby Cox, rocking back and forth during games.
The Orioles, however, already have a pitching coach in Ray Miller, but he called Flanagan to give his blessing to hire another pitching coach. Miller is recovering from surgery to remove an aneurysm, and it is uncertain if he would be able to return in 2006.
"Several days before his surgery," Flanagan said. "Ray called and said he wanted us to do whatever was best for the organization. He fully supports our efforts."
It's not difficult to entice Perlozzo to share entertaining stories about Mazzone, from being youth baseball rivals to working in the winters together in Cumberland, Md., between Minor League Baseball stints.
"You know I think the world of Leo," Perlozzo said recently. "He's one of my best friends. It would be great to work with him."
The Orioles would love to get Mazzone on board in the next few weeks, and his presence could attract top free agent pitchers. Meanwhile, Flanagan said he is still awaiting word from Rick Dempsey regarding the bullpen coach position vacated when Elrod Hendricks was reassigned.
According to a club source, Dempsey has little choice but to accept the position if he wants to stay within the organization. Dempsey has managerial aspirations, and it's apparent he would have to leave the Orioles' organization to achieve that goal.
Dempsey has served as a bullpen coach before, in 1999-2000 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, before leaving to become an analyst for Comcast SportsNet.
The rest of the coaching staff is expected to remain intact, with Terry Crowley returning as hitting coach, Dave Cash at first base and Tom Trebelhorn likely back, either at third base or bench coach. Ottawa manager Dave Trembley could also get a long look at a coaching position. He has impressed club officials with his work with the Orioles' high-level prospects.
Meanwhile, Flanagan continues interviews for the open vice president position with Mets senior vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette and Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. the leading candidates. Flanagan said the team is not likely to fill the assistant GM spot, opened when Ed Kenney's contract was not renewed. Kenney served an important role, tabulating contract numbers for arbitration-eligible players, keeping tabs on Minor League options and evaluating potential free agent and trade targets.
"We want to get an all-purpose guy who can serve a lot of roles," Flanagan said. "The guys we are interviewing are skilled in many areas. We're eager to get this staff together and get things started."
Flanagan said he has not heard from deposed executive vice president Jim Beattie, who has been offered a consultant position. The club is also expected to hire another executive to work closely with the Minor League staff but would not carry the role of assistant GM.