Players digest change at the top

Most found out news by phone

Gibbons: `It's ... a sad day'

Orioles Shake-up

June 19, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Not long after the Orioles named Dave Trembley interim manager yesterday, he made plans to speak with his players in the clubhouse before heading to the airport and boarding the team charter to San Diego. He wanted to ease any concerns they might have about the change in leadership and the direction of the club. And he wasn't sure what reception he would get.

"I've always been a direct person," he said. "I think the guys need to be told the truth, and I tell the truth - what their roles are and what my expectations are.

"The team has underachieved. We all have. And we have to do something about it. The problems are obvious, and the solution will take everybody's effort."

Before the players can put forth that effort, they first have to absorb what transpired.

Many of them found out about Sam Perlozzo's dismissal through early-morning phone calls from executives Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette. Others were told by stadium personnel as they arrived at Camden Yards, pulling their suitcases behind them.

"It's obviously a sad day, personally," Jay Gibbons said. "I don't think this had to happen. If I had done my job, he'd probably still be here. That's 100 percent true.

"We didn't play up to par for him. We just couldn't stop the bleeding. It got out of control, and someone had to fall for it, I guess."

Asked whether the Orioles' recent collapse - they've lost 13 of their past 15 games - was mostly Perlozzo's fault, Gibbons said: "As of late, I think it falls on the players. Sam was a young manager and probably made some mistakes early on. But all young managers are going to do that. As players, we didn't respond to him for whatever reason. I can't put a finger on it.

"I'm very disappointed with myself, and it's definitely a tough day because Sam was a friend before he was our manager and he'll be a friend afterward. I wanted to see him succeed, and it just didn't happen."

Brian Burres, the last pitcher to start a game for Perlozzo, wanted to keep his focus on baseball. That's pretty much what everyone has been attempting to do since Perlozzo's job status became an issue.

"I'm going to try to not let anything else enter my mind. I'm just going to try to get it done on the field and hopefully turn it around and start winning games," Burres said.

Flanagan noted how players seemed appreciative of the phone calls, and none of them was shocked by the news. The rumors were inescapable. A day didn't pass when they weren't confronted by them.

"They're obviously disappointed and frustrated by the chain of events," Flanagan said. "They know they have a good ballclub. They just want to get the ship righted and move on."

The Orioles closed the clubhouse to the media, and reporters weren't allowed to stand outside the entrance. Instead, they were herded to the curb opposite the players' parking lot, beside the security guard station, making contact with players almost impossible.

Chris Ray kept walking when asked for a comment after parking his vehicle. Jeremy Guthrie said he needed more time to collect his thoughts. Other players drove past and disappeared down the ramp.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.

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