Fernanado loses it, so does Oates Orioles manager blasts team after 6th loss in 7 games

April 14, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In an uncharacteristic move, Johnny Oates was the last man out of the Orioles' dugout after last night's 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.

What happened when he reached the clubhouse was equally out of character for the generally calm Orioles manager. The doors remained closed for 20 minutes, and Oates used most of the time to berate his team, which fell to 1-6.

Not all of what Oates said could be heard through the walls that afforded him semi-privacy, but the message came through loud and clear.

"Is there anyone here who's going to lead us?" Oates said in what could best be described as a controlled scream.

One phrase could be heard again and again: "Are you going to lead us?" Oates repeated at least three times.

When he was finished, Oates had a brief meeting with assistant general manager Frank Robinson and then opened the doors to reporters gathered outside the clubhouse.

When asked to summarize the meeting, Oates' answer was blunt: "None of your business."

He did say, however, that there was no particular incident or game that caused the outburst. "It's just been a progression of things that I haven't liked," he said. "What's bothered me more than anything has been the mental approach more than the physical approach.

"I have no fault whatsoever with the physical effort of any of these players," he added. "And I want to emphasize that. There's just been an accumulation of things."

When asked if he was worried about a general negative feeling setting in on the team, Oates said, "I think we addressed that tonight."

It was by far the most volatile Oates has been since taking over as manager almost two years ago, but he wouldn't say it was the angriest he has ever been.

"I don't know whether you can use the word anger, because when you have too much anger you sometimes can't think," said Oates. "I'd say that's about as upset as I've ever been, but ask [bench coach] Jerry Narron."

Narron was one of his players when Oates managed Triple-A Rochester in 1988, but he wouldn't rate that episode ahead of last night's.

"I don't think I've ever seen him that upset," said Narron. "But I'll say this much: He got right to the point both times."

There was little said in the clubhouse about the meeting. Pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who was a teammate of Oates' 14 years ago, wasn't that surprised by the outburst.

"He was pretty intense as a player, too," said Sutcliffe, who wouldn't comment further about the meeting.

"I'll leave that up to him," he said.

Although he admitted to a buildup before his outburst, Oates said he had not planned it in advance.

"It's like a good bottle of wine," he said. "When the time comes, you open it. At least that's what I've been told."

Oates said he doesn't like to make a practice of screaming at players.

"We had one [airing-out session] in Seattle my first year," he said, "but we didn't have one all last year. I don't believe in having a lot of them.

"But sometimes it's like talking to your children," he added. "You say things you don't like to say, but you do it because you feel it's necessary.

"And sometimes you scream to make sure they understand what you're saying."

Last night, Oates screamed and the Orioles listened. He can only hope they understood.

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