Players praise Oates' skill as manager

May 25, 1991|By Kent Baker

The Baltimore Orioles who formerly played for John Oates are unanimous in their endorsement of the team's new manager.

They respect his knowledge of baseball, his willingness to let them know where they stand, and his knack for putting players in positions where they have a chance to succeed.

"You don't have to ask him what your job is," said Craig Worthington, the third baseman on the 1988 Rochester Red Wings team that won the Governors' Cup. "He lets everybody know."

"Of all the people I've played for, he is the most prepared," veteran reliever Kevin Hickey said. "John is a very good student of the game. Coming up as a catcher, he had lots of things to think about, and he has retained them."

"He has a way of getting respect," said pitcher Bob Milacki, who had 11 complete games for that Red Wings team under Oates. "He's just a good all-around baseball man, a real professional."

The Orioles' clubhouse was generally upbeat before last night's game, as the players prepared for a new manager.

"He expected us to bust our butts," said reliever Mark Williamson. "There is an intensity about him. But we also had a little fun at Rochester, because we were winning."

Williamson said Oates is comparable to former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, in that "when he comes to the park, he has an idea of the matchups he'd like in that game. He tries to get everybody on the bench involved."

However, Oates is not characterized as a push-button manager or a rah-rah type who tries to get chummy with the players.

"There's not that much emotion that shows," Hickey said. "But there's a lot of it inside him. Basically, he's an even-keel, low-key guy. He knows when to have fun and when to take charge. And he's a very communicating person, one of the best."

Worthington said: "He doesn't try to get too close to the players. He has to be a little above you. But you feel like you can talk to him when you need to."

Said Milacki: "He'll have meetings when things aren't going well, and he always seems to say the right things. He doesn't hang out with the players day-to-day, but he knows when to do his job."

Hickey said Oates cannot be stereotyped as a technical manager, that all managers "prefer to take the quick fix, the three-run homer if they can get it.

"But he'll hit-and-run, squeeze, do a lot of things. The best thing about him is he lets you know when he might do things, an inning or two ahead of time that you'll be in there. That's always better than being in limbo."

Worthington said: "He's not overly aggressive. But if the runners on can run, he'll run them. He lets people play, do whatever their job is."

Said Williamson: "He'll push some people, but on the other hand, he'll pat them when they need it. He's a very positive manager."

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