Miller's health is Perlozzo priority

Coach has surgery

no quick decisions on staff retention

October 13, 2005|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

On his first day without the "interim" tag attached to his name as Orioles manager, Sam Perlozzo had the status of one of his coaches foremost in mind.

Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller had surgery yesterday at Johns Hopkins Hospital for an aneurysm below his heart. Miller, 60, came out of the surgery fine, team spokesman Bill Stetka said, and is expected to make a full recovery. The estimated recovery time is eight weeks, leaving his status with the team in question.

But yesterday, that was the last thing on Perlozzo's mind.

"I know [Ray's] got a pretty tough recovery period," Perlozzo said. "I think it's unfair to talk about that. We just want him to get healthy and get well. That's all that we need to talk about."

The first question Perlozzo fielded yesterday at his news conference concerned the composition of his coaching staff. It's a hot-button topic in the organization after former manager Lee Mazzilli wasn't allowed to select his own coaches in 2003, instead inheriting Mike Hargrove's staff.

That group of coaches included Perlozzo, who acknowledged yesterday that he has had preliminary discussions about the coaching staff with team owner Peter G. Angelos and executive vice president Mike Flanagan, but no decisions have been made.

However, according to a team source, Perlozzo will not be afraid to shake up a veteran coaching staff - no matter how tough the decisions may be. The current coaches' contracts expire this month.

Terry Crowley (hitting), Rick Dempsey (third base), Elrod Hendricks (bullpen) and Tom Trebelhorn (bench) have spent a total of 44 seasons as coaches in the organization and all have been a part of the staff since at least 2001.

Miller is in his third stint as the team's pitching coach, while first base coach Dave Cash is the staff's newcomer, joining the team in the second half of this past season.

"Anytime you make a change, none of those things are easy to do," said Perlozzo, who did not indicate that changes are definitely on the horizon, but saying if there are changes, he'd like to notify the coaches soon.

"If there are decisions that need to be made, you just do it. That's part of the job. You're not supposed to feel good about it."

Even Hendricks, who has spent 37 years in the organization and just finished his 28th season as bullpen coach, acknowledged that he's uncertain about his future. Hendricks, who had a minor stroke while the team was in St. Petersburg, Fla., in mid-April, got a clean bill of health Monday and wants to return.

"I never expect anything," he said. "I've had 37 one-year contracts. I take nothing for granted."

Contacted yesterday, Dempsey said that "at this point, I really don't know what Sam and Mike are going to do." Crowley also hadn't heard from the club yet.

One name that Perlozzo couldn't discuss was that of Leo Mazzone, who is under contract with the Atlanta Braves and is widely considered to be the game's best pitching coach. Perlozzo and Mazzone grew up in Western Maryland and remain close friends.

Notes -- The Orioles have been granted permission to interview Jim Duquette, the New York Mets senior vice president of baseball operations, as early as today. However, an industry source said he'd be surprised if Duquette, a candidate for other general manager openings, would accept an assistant's position under Flanagan. ... Deposed executive VP Jim Beattie said he likely will accept a consultant's position with the Orioles.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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