NEW YORK -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig moved closer Thursday to hiring Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to manage the Montreal Expos and former Anaheim boss Tony Tavares to become team president.
Selig has been talking with other baseball officials about putting together a management staff for the Expos, a high-ranking baseball official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The Expos are being sold to the other 29 clubs as part of baseball's unusual ownership shifts.
While the baseball official said Selig had moved closer to hiring Robinson and Tavares, the commissioner said speculation was premature.
"I've made no decision yet," Selig said. "I'm going to work my way through it over the weekend."
Robinson and Tavares did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Three people appeared to be in competition to become general manager: New York Mets senior assistant general manager Omar Minaya, former Texas general manager Doug Melvin and former Toronto general manager Gord Ash.
A person familiar with the Expos' hiring process, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Minaya was the leading contender, although it did not appear a final decision had been made.
Selig has pushed teams to increase the amount of minorities in baseball management. Robinson and Minaya would be additional minority hires, but Selig did not want to discuss the specifics of what he was looking for.
"Everybody knows my feelings on this," he said. "I am very sensitive about that."
Expos owner Jeffrey Loria is in the process of selling his team for $120 million and buying the Florida Marlins for $158.5 million from John Henry, who heads the group that was given approval last month to buy the Boston Red Sox for $660 million.
As part of the shifts, Loria will take much of his Montreal staff to the Marlins, including manager Jeff Torborg and interim general manager Larry Beinfest.
Selig originally hoped to eliminate the Expos and the Twins, but an injunction in Minnesota saved the Twins, forcing baseball to shelve its contraction plan for the 2002 season.
Henry and Loria still don't have a signed agreement on the Marlins' sale, but Selig already has called an owners' meeting for Tuesday to approve the deals - just three days before the Marlins and Expos report for spring training.
On Friday, Selig may decide whether the meeting will be held in Chicago or conducted by telephone.
Robinson, hired by Cleveland in 1975 as baseball's first black manager, has spent the last two years as vice president of on-field operations in the commissioner's office, deciding suspensions and fines for on-field conduct by players, managers and coaches.
Robinson, 66, is the only player to win Most Valuable Player awards in both leagues and is fourth on the career home run list at 586. He spent parts of 11 seasons as manager of the Indians, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles, compiling a 680-751 record.
Tavares, 52, resigned Jan. 4 as president of Anaheim Sports Inc., the subsidiary of The Walt Disney Co. that runs the Anaheim Angels and the NHL's Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He had run the Angels for nine seasons.
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