Rodgers is second member of front office dismissed

Minor league director fired after two seasons

Orioles

September 30, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For the Orioles to continue their makeover in the front office, another shoe had to drop.

Doc Rodgers, who spent two years as director of minor league operations, learned yesterday that his contract won't be renewed at the end of next month. The announcement came two days after scouting director Tony DeMacio received the same news.

"It's just a matter again of trying to get things to work better, improve on what we're trying to do," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations. "Doc brought a lot of good things to the organization. It was difficult, but we felt like we needed to do some things a little bit differently."

Beattie and vice president Mike Flanagan hired Rodgers away from the Cincinnati Reds, where he served as an assistant general manager, in January 2003. Rodgers replaced Don Buford, who was reassigned as a minor league manager.

"We got to know Doc and he did some things that we liked in the organization and we thanked him for that," Beattie said.

The Orioles' affiliates were a combined 102 games below .500 in 2002, but improved by 81 games in Rodgers' first season - the second-largest increase in baseball. They were 59 below .500 this year.

"I felt like we did what we were asked to do when we came in here a couple years ago," Rodgers said. "We got the organization in the right direction, but decisions are made in this game that you don't understand."

Rodgers still has a home in Cincinnati and will contact people in the industry once he returns.

"I've experienced a number of things in baseball," he said. "I feel like I bring a lot to the table."

Rodgers met with Beattie and Flanagan about 11:30 a.m. yesterday, and he proposed staff and personnel changes in player development that didn't get their approval.

"I said, `OK,' and the rest of the conversation was me thanking them," Rodgers said. "I absolutely loved it here. These were two of the best years in my professional career. I got to work with some outstanding people and I feel like everything we were asked to do, we got done."

A farm system that was rated last by Baseball America before Rodgers' arrival seemed to be invigorated in his first season. He was lauded for instilling discipline - sending players to extended spring training for rules violations - and making sure the instruction provided was consistent at each level.

Asked if he was proud of his accomplishments with the Orioles, Rodgers said, "It really doesn't matter what I say. You just trust the words of the coordinators and players who saw the changes and saw a totally different organization. It means something when it comes from the outside.

"I leave with a strong sense of accomplishment."

Rodgers' assistant, Tripp Norton, is expected to interview for the position. It's possible that the Orioles will hire one individual to replace Rodgers and DeMacio.

NOTE: Beattie said yesterday that the team's call to Major League Baseball last week, which led to the banishment of 85-year-old special assignment instructor Johnny Pesky from the Boston dugout, was not done in retaliation for the Red Sox checking the hat of starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez during a game between the teams last week.

"That didn't have anything to do with it," Beattie said. "It was all after the fact. I am not trying to use any gamesmanship. If it was handled correctly from the beginning, it wouldn't be a problem. It was nothing against Johnny Pesky. I love the guy."

The Red Sox reportedly were furious that Pesky, a popular figure in Boston who hadn't been granted permission by the league to be in the dugout, was barred. Boston comes to Camden Yards for a four-game series, starting tomorrow.

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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