Mazzilli: `I give everything I have every day'

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Manager reacts to rumors that his job is in jeopardy

July 16, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Leaning against a railing in the visitors' dugout at Tropicana Field yesterday, his back turned to the club as it took batting practice, Lee Mazzilli expressed disappointment that his job status has become an issue so early in his first season as Orioles manager.

With the losses mounting, along with speculation that he won't make it to the end, Mazzilli just as easily could have been pressed against a wall.

"No one likes to hear that," he said. "Nobody does."

The Orioles lost 25 of their last 38 games before the All-Star break, and their 37-48 record was their worst at the break in five years. Mazzilli noted how a few more victories would have quieted his critics.

"You look back and say if there was a five-game difference, you're .500 and there's nothing being said," he said. "It's a funny game that way."

Industry sources say Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos is frustrated with Mazzilli, and vice president Mike Flanagan indicated that the next few weeks could be important in determining the team's future.

Asked about any pressure he feels in the second half, Mazzilli said, "There's pressure every day you come out to the ballpark.

"The only thing I can feel right now is optimistic with what's going to happen out there. And the rest? Let the chips fall where they may."

Hired to replace Mike Hargrove after four seasons as the New York Yankees' first base coach, Mazzilli said he still believes in the organization and what it's trying to accomplish after six straight losing seasons.

"And I know that I give everything I have every day when I come to the ballpark," he said, "and I look forward to coming to the ballpark every day."

Mazzilli continues to direct most of the blame for the Orioles' last-place showing toward injuries that have torn through the rotation and starting lineup.

"You play the cards that you're dealt," he said, "and you battle the best way that you know how to do it."

Ponson expects to face K.C.

Sidney Ponson threw in the bullpen for about 18 minutes yesterday and expects to start Monday's game in Kansas City against the Royals.

Skipped in his previous turn because of a sore groin, he will have another side session tomorrow at Tropicana Field before he faces the Royals and tries to end his nine-game losing streak. Dave Borkowski will start Sunday against the Devil Rays, giving Ponson more time to recover.

Mora close to returning

The news also is good on third baseman Melvin Mora, who could be activated Sunday off the disabled list.

Tejada to rest in winter

Miguel Tejada said yesterday that he will not play in the Dominican winter league this season because of contract restrictions.

"I need to rest," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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