Trading places

There was good deal of warmth as O's, M's reunite

Old friends, new uniforms

April 05, 2008|By PETER SCHMUCK

Former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo held court in the visitors' dugout yesterday, trying hard to put his separation from the team last June in a perspective that would allow him to be honest about his feelings without sounding bitter about his dismissal.

Erik Bedard joked with a couple of old Baltimore acquaintances in the visitors' clubhouse but waved off the reporters who wanted to talk to him on his first visit to Camden Yards since he was traded to Seattle.

Adam Jones and George Sherrill traded pleasantries with their former Mariners teammates outside the indoor batting cages and huddled with the Seattle media contingent.

Such is the cross-pollination that has taken place between these two franchises the past few months. Perlozzo hooked on with the Mariners as third base coach over the winter and the three players were all part of the six-player deal that helped both clubs move in their particular directions.

The M's appear to be going places, and they traded a bunch of talent to acquire a pitcher who could easily contend for the American League Cy Young Award if he gets enough run support. The Orioles also are making plans for October, just not the same October as the Mariners. So they're more than happy to audition Sherrill in the closer role and wait for Jones to grow into a marquee outfielder.

In short, everybody got what they wanted, except maybe Perlozzo, who would have liked a little more time to prove himself as Orioles manager.

"I think you learn as you go along in anything you do," he said yesterday. "But I was prepared, and I did what I thought was best for the organization. I believe there wasn't much I could have done to change the things that needed to be changed in this organization."

The past 10 months - and the personnel changes that were on display in both dugouts last night - are proof of that. It took a major change in management philosophy to alter the long-term outlook for the Orioles and it remains a matter of debate whether Perlozzo was a victim of last year's front office upheaval or part of the problem that led to it.

It really doesn't matter anymore. The world has turned, and Perlozzo is probably in a better place. The same goes for Bedard, whose desire to play for a contending team and apparent lack of desire to sign a long-term deal with the Orioles made the decision to trade him a no-brainer.

Apparently, there are no lingering hard feelings on either side. Bedard may not have been a favorite of the local media - or a fan of it - but he left behind plenty of friends in Baltimore.

"My feelings about Erik haven't changed," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. Every time he went out there, he gave us a chance to win. I don't think that will change because he's in a different uniform."

We'll find out soon enough. He's scheduled to make his second regular-season start as a member of the Mariners tomorrow. Bedard wasn't at his best on Opening Day against the Texas Rangers, but still struck out five and gave up just one earned run over five innings.

If this weekend bears added emotional significance for any of the players who changed teams, they weren't making a lot of it yesterday. Other than a few batting cage man-hugs, it was pretty much business as usual during each team's rain-altered pre-game workouts.

"Once you get out there, it's the same old adrenaline," Sherrill said. "It was good to see everybody, but now it's game time. Off the field, those guys are always going to be special to me, but the game is the game."

There is no pledge of allegiance in baseball. None is necessary. The change in uniforms makes the change in loyalty automatic.

"If we get into fisticuffs," Sherrill said, "I'll be out there as an Oriole."

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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