Consolation prize

Girardi turning down O's left team with better fit

On Dave Trembley

April 21, 2008|By DAVID STEELE

It wasn't one they'll be talking about years from now when they tell the story of the Orioles' return to glory. If they talk at all about yesterday at Camden Yards, it'll be about how fans and players were teased by a downpour all day, then got one when things were almost finished. And about how Steve Trachsel couldn't pitch quick enough or George Sherrill couldn't go to the plate enough (instead of over to first) to get the game in before the rain soaking the rest of the area finally soaked the ballpark.

They definitely won't be talking about how Joe Girardi first came to town with his New York Yankees to face the franchise he turned down.

Hey, if Dave Trembley, the guy who got the job Girardi turned down, doesn't think much about it today, why should anybody else?

And Trembley does not. He's the guy who got the job, first on an interim basis and then for good, through the wretched finish of last season and the arduous rebuilding of this and future seasons, if things go well. They're going well so far, yesterday's soggy 7-1 loss to the Yankees notwithstanding. They still took two of three from New York, another unexpected early-season success, another affirmation that they, at long last, have figured things out.

The more you watch Trembley manage and listen to how he's handling his task, the more you remember why it couldn't have worked out any better for these Orioles.

"I'm not competing against, with all due respect, Joe Girardi or the New York Yankees," Trembley said before the game. Then, he added, with the resolve he showed the day he took over mid-debacle eight months ago in San Diego: "I'm not intimidated. I'm not afraid of anybody. I'm not afraid of what they're gonna do to me, and I think the team has the same approach. And I don't mean that disrespectfully. I don't mean that any other way than the facts.

"I don't manage against Joe Girardi, I don't manage against [the Boston Red Sox's] Terry Francona. I represent the Baltimore Orioles, and my job is to make sure the Baltimore Orioles are in the best shape possible while I'm here. And when I leave, hopefully it's a little bit better."

If he left today, the Orioles would be better off than they were when he took over, in June in San Diego, for a day or two or three or 90, depending on what Girardi decided. That's not an easy thing to shrug off no matter how long you've managed in organized baseball.

Yesterday, Trembley recalled that when he got the call to take over for Sam Perlozzo for that indefinite period of time, "I said, `Hey, you don't have to tell me how long. I don't want to ask you.'

"I feel the same way [now]. ... I appreciate it, I'm grateful for it. I understand the responsibility that goes along with it, but I don't ponder the paths of what could've been, what should've been, or any of that stuff."

What could've been, of course, was Girardi managing the Orioles. He had legit reasons to say no; he cited concerns about his ailing father, who still is ailing and who still is on his mind. Technically, it wasn't a slap in Baltimore's face, not the way Jason Garrett's toying with the Ravens this past winter was. (And how ironic was it that the man who got the Ravens' job instead of Garrett, John Harbaugh, threw out the first pitch yesterday?)

Nor was it exactly a dumb career move for Girardi: This job, as it stood - as it stands now, in fact - wasn't for everybody.

It's the right fit for Trembley, though. Andy MacPhail knew it after a couple of months and still knows it. The 11-8 record as this brutal road stretch begins (17 of the next 20, with two West Coast trips) is icing on the cake. Actually, it was assumed there would be way more games like this one - in which the Orioles couldn't touch Andy Pettitte, or take advantage of golden scoring opportunities, or have pitchers keep the game within range.

Winning games, Trembley said, "doesn't change our approach, it doesn't change how I feel, and it doesn't alter the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is, we're laying the foundation for how things are going to be, not only this year, for years to come. And were not going to change that."

Girardi got what he wanted, and so did the Yankees. The Orioles, though, who went after Girardi and ended up with Trembley, got what they needed.

david.steele@baltsun.com

Listen to David Steele on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. on WNST (1570 AM).

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