Future hazy, Perlozzo clearheaded

O's manager still focused on winning as he weighs playing vets, youngsters

Notebook

September 10, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - Sam Perlozzo's answer to the question has always been the same, even as the Orioles fell further and further out of the playoff picture in the past month.

Whenever a reporter asked if the Orioles' interim manager was considering sitting some veterans in favor of younger players in the final month of the season, Perlozzo responded with a refrain of the team's main focus.

"The most important thing is that the team continues to try to win," Perlozzo said.

It's what you'd expect to hear from a manager who isn't sure if he'll be back next season, although Perlozzo said that his job status is the furthest thing from his mind when he writes out the lineup before each game.

"Quite honestly, I would think that wins and losses aren't going to cost me my job," said Perlozzo, who entered last night's series opener against the Seattle Mariners 14-18 since replacing the dismissed Lee Mazzilli. "If it does, then so be it.

"Basically I want to get the guys in the game that should get in, and I don't think you ever sacrifice a win to get somebody playing time. If I sit down and talk to Jim [Beattie, Orioles executive vice president] or Mike [Flanagan, vice president] this trip to see if there's anything special they'd like to see done, then we can do it. Unless someone is knocking on your door for your starting lineup, we'll take a different approach to that."

On paper, the Orioles' three-game series against the Mariners might be as good of a time as any for the organization to evaluate some of the younger players in a major league setting. Perlozzo has said that when the Orioles face playoff-contending teams, he has a responsibility to the game to put out the lineup that gives the Orioles the best chance to win.

Seattle, however, has long exited the playoff picture, and this series could be a good opportunity for players like Walter Young, Bernie Castro, Eli Whiteside and Eddie Rogers.

"If we felt that there was somebody that was definitely in our plans or pretty darn close to being in our plans next year, sooner or later you are going to have to let him play a little bit," Perlozzo said. "But these guys will get some playing time. There is a lot of month left."

Friendly adversaries

Former Orioles and current Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was pleased that Perlozzo, who worked under him as either a bench coach or third base coach during Hargrove's four seasons in Baltimore, was given a chance at a managerial job when Mazzilli was fired. He also would like to see Perlozzo keep the job next season, and that presents an interesting dilemma.

"Sammy is a good baseball man," Hargrove said. "It's kind of a Catch-22 situation. I want him to get that job full time and I know the best way for him to do that is to win games, but I'd hope for the next three days he's a loser."

The two hugged before the game last night in Perlozzo's return to a city where he worked for three seasons as a third base coach under former Seattle manager Lou Piniella. After the 2002 season, Perlozzo was also a finalist for Seattle's managerial opening, but the job went to Bob Melvin.

"It's good to be a skipper anywhere, to be honest with you," Perlozzo said. "I think we all take a little time to owe certain organizations a debt of gratitude that you were able to learn something from them and be there."

Tejada in seventh alone

Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada played in his 896th straight game last night, passing Stan Musial and moving into sole possession of seventh place on the all-time list of consecutive games played.

Tejada, the holder of the longest streak among active players, is now chasing Joe Sewell, who is in sixth place on the list with 1,103 consecutive games played.

Around the horn

Perlozzo wasn't sure if reliever Todd Williams, who was feeling sick, would be available for last night's game. ... Perlozzo has not spoken with either Sammy Sosa or Rafael Palmeiro, who were both sent home because of injuries, since they left the team, but he said he expects to get in touch with Palmeiro next week when the Orioles are in Texas, where Palmeiro lives. ... Single-A Frederick outfielder Jeff Fiorentino was named the Carolina League Player of the Month.

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