DeMacio trying to figure reason for O's dismissal

Ex-scouting director gets high marks for passing credit to lower scouts

Baseball

September 29, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

If Tony DeMacio could erase one day from his life, Monday would be an appropriate place to begin his list.

His wife was home sick. The smoke detectors went off while she was alone. His son was involved in a minor car accident while driving to work. And DeMacio was told the Orioles weren't going to renew his contract as scouting director, leaving him without a job after next month.

"Not a very good day," he said.

DeMacio, who spent six years with the Orioles, was given the news during a brief meeting with team executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan. Beattie later told reporters the decision was made as a means of "changing the mix for us in the front office."

"I sat there for five minutes," DeMacio said, "and still couldn't figure out the reason."

It couldn't have come as a complete surprise to DeMacio, who heard the same rumors as everyone else in the industry.

"You try not listen to them," he said. "I feel like I'm a professional. I was prepared for anything that they told me. But nobody likes to get let go, especially when it's never happened to you before."

DeMacio was hired in December 1998 after spending four seasons as East Coast scouting supervisor with the Chicago Cubs. His baseball career began with the Atlanta Braves in 1983.

"He's a class guy," said Dean Albany, an East Coast scout for the Orioles who grew up in the Baltimore area. "Being out there scouting, you never heard anybody say a negative word about Tony DeMacio. He's always held in the highest regard.

"He's not only been a great boss and mentor, he's been a friend to everybody. He calls when you're sick to check how you're doing. I was scouting in Texas and I was broken down on the side of the road, and he must have called me 10 times to make sure I was all right. I don't think it's any secret that he had great relationships with all the people who worked under him."

DeMacio always pushed for his scouts to receive more credit when a prospect moved up the system.

"I'm really proud of my staff," he said. "I can't say enough about them. I'm so appreciative of the work they put in, and their loyalty. It became a family," he said.

Only one of DeMacio's 10 first-round picks, outfielder Larry Bigbie, reached the majors, but six others made it from the later rounds: Brian Roberts, Erik Bedard, Willie Harris, John Maine, Val Majewski and Aaron Rakers.

"And there are going to be more coming," he said.

His tenure might be defined more by the injuries that held back pitchers Richard Stahl, Beau Hale, Chris Smith and Adam Loewen, each taken in the first round in consecutive years. Clemson University pitcher Mike Paradis, the 13th overall pick in 1999, was released this summer from Triple-A Ottawa.

"Before every kid is signed, they have to pass physicals from the team doctors," he said. "I feel bad for those kids because they might not be able to realize their dreams. You hurt for them. But it happens with every organization."

As examples, DeMacio singled out pitchers Clint Everts, Bobby Bradley and Sean Burnett, all No. 1 selections with other teams who have been injured.

"You sign them and then you have no control over them," he said, "and you hope and pray they get there."

DeMacio described his relationship with Beattie and Flanagan as "professional" and said he never sensed any animosity or friction.

"I was treated with respect the entire time I was with them," he said.

DeMacio wouldn't comment on majority owner Peter Angelos' intervention before this year's draft, which resulted in the selection of pitcher Wade Townsend. The Orioles lost the rights to Townsend after he began attending classes at Rice University in late August.

"That's another day," he said.

So are the decisions pending on other club officials whose contracts expire, including Doc Rodgers, director of minor league operations. Speculation persists within the industry that Rodgers will be replaced, but Flanagan indicated that nobody's status has been settled.

"We haven't gotten that far," he said.

Asked about Rodgers, he said, "We haven't gotten there yet."

Rodgers said, "I expect to be back next season, but I'm waiting like everyone else."

Beattie, Flanagan and Ed Kenney, director of baseball administration, held an organizational meeting yesterday with manager Lee Mazzilli and the coaching staff.

"We just went over the club, the 40-man roster, nothing earth-shattering," Flanagan said. "A couple hours' work."

Whatever plans are made for 2005 won't include DeMacio.

"They decided to go in another direction and I respect that," he said. "I appreciate the time I had here in Baltimore and the opportunity to be their scouting director. I didn't make it to the big leagues as a player, but I felt like I made it to the big leagues in a different way."

NOTES: Yesterday's rainout, the ninth this season, will be made up today as part of a doubleheader beginning at 3:05 p.m. Bruce Chen will pitch Game 1, followed by Rick Bauer, who hasn't started in the majors since Aug. 24, 2002. Daniel Cabrera was pushed back to Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader with the Boston Red Sox. Fans holding tickets for last night may use them for any remaining game this season - including today's doubleheader - or any weekday game next April, excluding Opening Day.

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