Source: Presley expected to sign with Os (updated)

With Tuesday’s news that longtime Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley will move to a hitting evaluator position, a Major League source said on Friday that he expects Jim Presley to soon sign a two-year deal to become manager Buck Showalter’s hitting coach in Baltimore.

Presley was also in the running to join new Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez’s staff. He served as Gonzalez’s hitting coach in Florida, but the Braves are thought to be pursuing other candidates.

Showalter would not confirm or deny that Presley was in line to be hired, but told MLB.com on Friday afternoon that Presley -who reportedly is in the mix for several organizations — is on a very short list of candidates, a list which he expects to close in on in the coming days.

A Major League player for eight seasons, Presley worked with Showalter as the hitting coach in Arizona from the D-backs’ inaugural 1998 season until 2000. He became the Marlins’ hitting coach in ’06 and was dismissed on June 23, along with Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca. A former American League All-Star, Presley was long rumored to be a candidate to join Showalter’s staff, along with Rick Down, Showalter’s hitting coach in New York and Astros Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Barnett.

The Orioles’ offense finished next-to-last among American League teams this season in runs scored, and spent the first two-thirds of the year ranked near the bottom of the Majors in batting average with runners in scoring position, RBIs and walks.

Crowley’s newly created role will involve him working closely with the Minor League side of the organization and applying the 63-year-old’s expertise in areas including scouting and the First-Year Player Draft. He has spent the past 12 seasons as the Orioles’ hitting coach and has been with the organization for two separate stints totaling 16 years. The O’s have yet to make an official announcement on Crowley’s new post, although he has also been tabbed by Showalter to give his input on his successor.

Both Showalter and Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will be present for the organizational meetings, which are slated to begin on Monday in Phoenix. And although MacPhail said it would be “pretty ambitious” to reach a final decision on staffing over the weekend, he did tell MLB.com on Wednesday that the organization will have a pretty good idea where things stand by then.  Showalter, who will meet with MacPhail back in Baltimore on Saturday, reiterated that sentiment on Friday.

When the Orioles do make an announcement, it will most likely be for Showalter’s entire staff. The four vacant managerial openings around the League has slowed that process, with former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu — a rumored favorite to serve as Showalter’s bench coach –believed to be in the running for one of those positions.

In addition to Crowley, Showalter inherited pitching coach Rick Kranitz, bench coach Jeff Datz, bullpen coach Alan Dunn, first-base coach John “T-Bone” Shelby and third-base coach Gary Allenson. Rangers special assistant Mark Connor is believed to be the leading candidate to join Showalter’s staff as pitching coach, although Kranitz -who is also in the mix to join Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi — is thought highly of by Showalter and could still be retained.

 It is possible Showalter keeps several of the coaches on staff, although it could require a change in roles. He has also made it clear that he wants to retain the old “Oriole Way,” making it plausible to give expanded roles to former players, including Minor League offensive coordinator Mike Bordick, who is expected to be at next week’s organizational meetings along with a good portion of next spring’s coaching staff.

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