As the 15th manager in Orioles history, Lee Mazzilli might be inheriting more than a fourth-place team trying to re-establish itself as a yearly contender. He also could get an entire coaching staff.
Introduced as Mike Hargrove's replacement yesterday during a news conference at the B&O warehouse, Mazzilli said he will invite all six coaches to return for the 2004 season, including two who were finalists for the job he just received.
He'll soon find out how many of them accept the offer.
Pitching coach Mark Wiley, hitting coach Terry Crowley, third base coach Tom Trebelhorn and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks indicated over the past few days that they'll remain in the organization if given the opportunity.
First base coach Rick Dempsey, who interviewed for the manager's job, said yesterday he wanted to speak with Mazzilli and "clear up some things" before making a decision. He's expected to return.
"I'm sure that I'll talk to him down the road," Dempsey said. "It's a mystery to me. I have to discuss this with him and see how he feels about it.
"I love the Orioles. I don't want to leave them. But I also don't want the manager to feel like he has to look over his shoulder at someone on his own staff. It's a tough situation."
More uncertain to return is bench coach Sam Perlozzo, apparent runner-up to Mazzilli, who is rumored as a possible replacement for him as third base coach with the New York Yankees. Perlozzo declined to be interviewed by The Sun yesterday, but Hendricks said he expected the Cumberland resident to stay with the team.
"Of course, he's hurt. That's understandable," said Hendricks, who talked to Perlozzo over the phone yesterday. "I sort of hurt for him, because I know he wanted the job. He wanted to run this club.
"He's going to sleep on it. Hopefully, he'll make the right decision and stay here, because he has so much to offer and he's very well-liked on the staff and in the clubhouse. The players have a lot of respect for him."
"I've known Sammy a long time," Mazzilli said. "I knew he was in the running for the job. I very easily could have been on the other side of that coin. He's a good baseball man. If it was somewhere else that I had a job, I'd want to steal him away."
While the Orioles prepared to introduce Mazzilli to the local media yesterday, Dempsey sat in a dentist's chair near his California home. As if the day hadn't been painful enough.
Extremely popular with fans after 11 1/2 seasons as an Orioles catcher and two more as coach, Dempsey is bitter at the notion he received only a token interview for the managerial position and wasn't regarded as a serious candidate.
"I was embarrassed by some of the things that were written about me. It was very cutting and vindictive," he said. "I've got to put it behind me fast and move forward. I was hurt by the whole process. This hasn't been a good experience for me, but it's one of those things where you've got to get over it."
Executive vice president Jim Beattie praised Dempsey yesterday, saying his interview "was outstanding." Dempsey was among eight candidates who met with Beattie and vice president Mike Flanagan after a 71-91 season that led to Hargrove's dismissal.
If the entire staff returns next season, Trebelhorn said he doesn't want it to be construed as an indictment of Hargrove. He figures there's plenty of blame to go around for all the losses.
"It's a tough situation for Grover," he said. "We didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle, and with all of us coming back and he isn't ... that's the only thing that's tough for me. We all have to be better collectively."
No matter how many times the Orioles undergo change, Hendricks remains a constant. Entering his 36th season with them as a player or coach, he has become as synonymous with the Baltimore area as crab cakes and humidity. But that doesn't make him feel any more secure about his position in the organization whenever a new manager is hired.
"I always worry. It's natural for me, because I've always been on a one-year contract," he said.
Mazzilli said he was comfortable with keeping the staff intact rather than bringing in his own people.
"We have good, quality people here," he said. "And if you think I was going to tell Elrod Hendricks that he wasn't coming back, you're crazy. I would never make it out of this city."
Years Manager Record Pct.
2000-2003 Mike Hargrove 275-372 .425
1998-1999 Ray Miller 157-167 .485
1996-1997 Davey Johnson 186-138 .574
1995 Phil Regan 71-73 .493
1991-1994 Johnny Oates 291-270 .519
1988-1991 Frank Robinson 230-285 .447
1987-1988 Cal Ripken Sr. 68-101 .402
1983-1985 Joe Altobelli 212-167 .559
1968-1982, Earl Weaver 1,480-1,060 .583
1964-1968 Hank Bauer 407-318 .561
1962-1963 Billy Hitchcock 163-161 .503
1961 Luman Harris 17-10 .630
1955-1961 Paul Richards 517-539 .490
1954 Jimmy Dykes 54-100 .351