As a reward for guiding the Baltimore Orioles through the most tumultuous two-month stretch in franchise history, Sam Perlozzo had the “interim” label removed from his job title Wednesday and signed a three-contract as manager.
Perlozzo takes control of a team that has suffered through eight straight losing seasons, the longest such run since the Orioles moved from St. Louis in 1954.
“We’re going to go at it as hard as we can, and as long as we can, until we get a winner on this field,” he said, speaking within the warehouse that sits behind Baltimore’s home stadium. “I look for that to happen sooner than later.”
Perlozzo was promoted from bench coach to interim manager on Aug. 4, taking over for Lee Mazzilli after the Orioles lost 16 of 18 to sink into fourth place in the American League East.
Perlozzo’s job went far beyond filling out the lineup card, giving signs to base runners and summoning pitchers from the bullpen. He also had to serve as the voice of the organization as the Orioles endured the steroid suspension of Rafael Palmeiro, the termination of the contract of pitcher Sidney Ponson after two drunken driving arrests, and injuries to Sammy Sosa and Brian Roberts.
Though his 23-32 record was not spectacular, Perlozzo’s levelheaded approach under extreme conditions enabled him to retain the job.
“I think we made the determination late in the season,” said Mike Flanagan, who was promoted to executive vice president on Tuesday. “There’s an old expression: Rough seas make a great sea captain. I think we got to see the best of Sam in a very difficult time, and frankly, I was very impressed the way he handled the club on the field and in the clubhouse.”
Phillies meet with Wagner
The Philadelphia Phillies took a first step toward retaining closer Billy Wagner, meeting with the All-Star left-hander in Virginia.
Wagner was 4-3 with a 1.51 ERA and 38 saves, and nearly helped the Phillies reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Philadelphia finished 88-74, just one game behind Houston for the National League wild-card spot.
Wagner earned $9 million in the final year of his contract, and re-signing him is the team’s top priority in the off-season.
Team president David Montgomery and assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. met with Wagner and his agent, Bean Stringfellow.
Ed Wade had been scheduled to attend the meeting, but he was fired on Monday after eight seasons as the general manager.
“We felt it was important to have a face-to-face meeting with them,” Amaro said. “We had an excellent dialogue regarding Billy’s future with us as well as our desire to keep him in Philadelphia. We made a proposal, received feedback, understand we have ground to cover and plan to have further discussions.”
Girardi interviews with Marlins, Devil Rays
Joe Girardi has no managerial experience, which may soon change.
The Yankees’ bench coach interviewed in New York with two teams seeking a manager: the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
“It was an opportunity to review the situations,” said Girardi’s agent, Steve Mandell. “Everybody agreed to get together again.”
Another meeting with either team is possible, Mandell said. He said neither club gave a timetable for a decision.
“Both are interested in hiring the right person,” Mandell said.
Girardi spent 15 years as a major league catcher, then went into broadcasting in 2004. He came out of the booth to join the Yankees’ staff this season.
When asked how eager Girardi is to become a manager now, Mandell said, “He has a desire to be a manager if the right situation comes along.”
Girardi, who met informally last week with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, this time talked for two hours with Loria, general manager Larry Beinfest and assistant general manager Mike Hill.
On Tuesday, the Marlins interviewed Atlanta Braves bench coach Fredi Gonzalez and Oakland Athletics third-base coach Ron Washington.
Florida is expected to interview Tampa Bay coaches Billy Hatcher and Tom Foley, but Girardi and Gonzalez – who spent 10 years in the Marlins’ organization – are considered front-runners for the job.
Stottlemyre takes shots at Steinbrenner
Almost certain he’s stepping down after 10 years as New York Yankees pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre had harsh words for George Steinbrenner and the owner’s treatment of manager Joe Torre.
Speaking in the Yankees clubhouse where he’s spent 21 seasons as a player and coach, Stottlemyre said he interpreted Steinbrenner’s statement following the Yankees’ elimination by the Los Angeles Angels as a slap at Torre. Steinbrenner said Tuesday: “I congratulate the Angels and their manager on the great job they’ve done.”
“I laughed when I saw it,” Stottlemyre said. “My first thoughts were, ‘What about Joe? Joe had done a hell of a job, too.’ To congratulate the other manager and not congratulate your own after what he’d done this year, I laughed.”