On hot seat, Perlozzo fires back at critics

May 23, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

In his first extensive comments on the subject, Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said yesterday that he isn't concerned about reports that his job could be in jeopardy. He said he has no sense that is true after speaking with the club's top executives.

"I think that if you feel like you haven't put your people in the right places, then you should worry about your job," Perlozzo said before last night's 6-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. "I don't feel that is the case. I feel like if anybody knows anything about baseball, they'd know that any games that we lost, our setup guy and closer have been in at the end.

"You put the people in and if they don't do the job, you pick up the pieces and we go after them the next time. You got to have some common sense or knowledge about the game to realize what is going on out here."

Club owner Peter Angelos, executive vice president Mike Flanagan and vice president Jim Duquette have declined to publicly talk about Perlozzo's status, which has only added to the speculation that the manager's job is insecure. However, according to one club source, there has been significant discussion in the warehouse about whether Perlozzo is the right man for the job and about whether firing him will fix the Orioles' problems.

Asked about Perlozzo yesterday by a group of reporters, Duquette grew agitated.

"We've already addressed the topic, so we are not going to talk about it," he said. "We've been talking about it for the last two weeks. ... If you want to talk about something else, I'll be available or Mike will be available. That's it."

Perlozzo said he hasn't discussed his status with Flanagan and Duquette, though the three have been communicating regularly about the state of the team.

"Mike and Jim have been very jovial and cordial and everything," Perlozzo said. "We talk about the games."

Pitching coach Leo Mazzone, one of Perlozzo's closest friends, called talk that the manager should be fired "an absolute joke."

"I think he has done nothing wrong," Mazzone said. "He tries to make sure everybody is treated fairly. He tries to do everything he can to have guys feel good about themselves. He tries to do everything he can to make sure everybody understands the situations they are in. I don't see a thing wrong with what he is doing."

It has been widely assumed that if Perlozzo is let go, Mazzone, who like Perlozzo, is in the second year of a three-year contract, would follow him. Their relationship was the main reason Mazzone left the Atlanta Braves to become the Orioles' pitching coach before the 2006 season.

When asked what it would mean to him and his employment if Perlozzo were fired, Mazzone said: "It's not going to happen, so I'm not even going to address that."

Meanwhile, Perlozzo continues to ignore all the talk about his job security, saying that it is not a distraction to him, but he isn't sure how it affects the rest of the club.

"You have to ask the team," he said. "I don't read the paper anymore. I come in here, I want to have a good attitude, a clear mind to do the job that I was paid to do and want to do. I don't read anything anymore. I don't listen to the radio. I come out, I am in a good mood, I talk to my players, I want to have some fun and I manage the game the way I think it should be managed and I let the chips fall."

In a Sun story last week about Perlozzo's job security, several of the Orioles' high-profile players, including Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada, declined to comment about the manager's status. Several other players have complained publicly that Perlozzo hasn't communicated what their roles are.

Perlozzo said yesterday that he is fine with the fact that he may not be well-liked by everybody in the clubhouse.

"I don't think about it. When you manage a team, you are going to have some people that might not like you. If they can't perform because they don't like me, then they can't be very good people," he said. "You are paid to go out and do a job - all of us are. Whether you like somebody or you don't like someone or you support them or you don't, a lot of people come in here to see people play. That's all there is to it. You have no right in this world not to give 100 percent out there, no matter who is in charge. That's the way I see it."

Throughout the interview, Perlozzo remained composed and even joked with reporters between questions. When informed that a common fan complaint is that he doesn't have enough fire - the same criticism of Lee Mazzilli, whom Perlozzo replaced - the manager got slightly defensive.

"What kind of fire do you mean?" he said. "They didn't see me throw my hat in Boston. ... If you've been around me, which you all have, there is plenty of fire here. This is big league baseball. If you can't get fired up about coming here and playing baseball, we got problems. That's hard for me to understand. I put on this uniform every day and I am fired up. ... If it gets any better than this, somebody let me know what it was."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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