By Dan Connolly
1:20 PM PST, January 12, 2012
One popular former Orioles pitcher will be replacing another as a minor league coach at short-season Single-A Aberdeen in a restructuring that is designed to give the club’s pitching prospects a better foundation.
Former Orioles reliever Alan Mills will be the new pitching coach at Aberdeen, replacing Orioles World Series winner Scott McGregor.
McGregor, who spent time in September as the Orioles’ interim bullpen coach and coached at Aberdeen for four years, will now work out of Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., dealing with both injury-rehabbing pitchers and pitchers who are selected in the June draft.
Under the new collective bargaining rules, draft picks must sign by July 13 -- a month earlier than in previous years -- and those who do will report to Sarasota for a two-to-three-week orientation. McGregor, a 138-game winner from 1976 to 1988 with the Orioles, will handle all those pitchers.
He’ll get them weeks removed from high school and college, then will turn them over to the pro ranks.
“It’s real important to bridge that gap,” McGregor said. “So that will be a lot of fun.”
McGregor was hoping to stay with the big league club as bullpen coach before the Orioles hired Bill Castro -- and so there was some obvious disappointment. Now McGregor will deal with pitchers at the opposite end of the spectrum. He said he remembers his late friend and teammate, Mike Flanagan, telling him how much it meant to have someone of McGregor’s status to be working with incoming pitchers.
“Mike told me, ‘Mac, to have someone with 138 wins and [who did] the things you did to be willing to work at the lowest level is huge,’ ” McGregor said. “I’m an Oriole. So it’s an honor to work with these guys and get them going in the right direction.”
Mills, who spent nine of his 12 seasons with the Orioles, will be back with the organization for the first time since he was a player in 2001. He coached one year at the pro level, for Oneonta in the Detroit Tigers system, and is now in his third season coaching at his alma mater , Kathleen High School in Florida.
"It means a lot [to be back in the Orioles’ organization],” Mills said. “I’ve always felt a closeness from the first day I came to Baltimore from New York. If I had to pick any organization to work for, it would be the O’s. It feels like home to me, and it always has.”
The Orioles haven’t officially announced their minor league staffs yet, but here’s a few that are pretty much set.
Ron Johnson, the former Boston Red Sox coach, will manage Triple-A Norfolk and will be assisted by Mike Griffin, who will be returning as Tides pitching coach for the fourth season. Norfolk is expected to have a new field coach in former big leaguer Denny Walling, who had spent the past six seasons as an Orioles’ minor league hitting coordinator.
Walling, who has been a major league hitting coach with the New York Mets, will replace Brad Komminsk, who will be re-assigned to another affiliate as a field coach.
Gary Kendall is expected to be back for his second season as Double-A Bowie manager. His staff will be the same, with Kennie Steenstra in his third year as Baysox pitching coach and Denny Hocking in his second season as field coach.
Orlando Gomez will manage the High-A Frederick Keys for the third straight season and will be assisted by Blaine Beatty (pitching) and likely Jose Hernandez (field), who would be moving up from Delmarva.
The Shorebirds likely will be managed for the third straight season by former Oriole Ryan Minor. Meanwhile, Aberdeen will have Gary Allenson, the former Norfolk manager and Orioles third base coach, at the helm. Komminsk could join Mills and Allenson in Aberdeen.The Orioles are expected to hire Michael Boulanger as minor league hitting coordinator, a role he most recently held with the Texas Rangers. He will essentially replace Walling.
Mike Bordick is expected to be the organization’s base-running and infield coordinator, assuming he can balance the responsibilities with his new broadcasting job as a color analyst with the Orioles-owned MASN TV network.
Former longtime Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley will remain with the organization as a special-assignment hitting instructor and adviser.
The Orioles are still negotiating with longtime major league pitching coach Rick Peterson on a position similar to minor league pitching coordinator with additional responsibilities -- sort of a “pitching development” position.MASNSports.com first reported the hiring of Boulanger.
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