BALTIMORE -- John Russell has been relieved of his job as the Baltimore Orioles' third-base coach, trading positions with bench coach Willie Randolph in a move manager Buck Showalter deemed "a better fit for the club."
The switch comes less than a week after Russell waved pitcher Chris Jakubauskas toward the plate with no outs in the fifth inning of a game against the Washington Nationals. Jakubauskas was running from first on a double by J.J. Hardy, and by the time he arrived the catcher was waiting with the ball. Jakubauskas was tagged out after an awkward slide.
"You try to look for ways you can score, and sometimes it backfires and you get a guy thrown out," Russell said Friday. "I probably shouldn't have done that, but you never know."
Showalter, however, insisted Russell -- a former big league catcher -- was moved to bench coach because he has a sore knee and can provide advice to catchers Matt Wieters and Craig Tatum between innings.
"I think I kind of took initiative with it more than anything because he is not going to say anything physically (about the knee)," Showalter said.
Russell dismissed the knee as a non-issue but acknowledged that his new position as bench coach will give him a chance to work with Baltimore's catchers.
"For me, that's very important. I want to spend time with Matty between innings, which I couldn't do when I was out on the field," Russell said. "It's a great opportunity for me to talk to him. We talk a lot, but you can't really talk during the game because I'm out on the field. If I do have something to say, I'm usually saying it as I run out on the field."
Russell defended his style as third-base coach, saying it was his job to take a risk if it would lead to a run.
"It's a non-glory position. You're right if they're safe and wrong if they're out," he said. "As a third-base coach, I always prided myself in trying to find ways to score.
"For example, when we were in Washington, the grass was real quick. You knew the guy was going to be throwing the ball hard to home, so it was going to be a tough play for the catcher," he said.
Asked if Russell deemed the change in his position to be a lateral move, he said, "Pretty much. It's Buck's decision. I'm just doing what the manager wants me to do."
It's the latest change in Baltimore's unsettled coaching staff. Pitching coach Mark Connor resigned June 14, four days after bullpen coach Alan Dunn left to become pitching coach at LSU.