CHICAGO — There were times in the days after his firing that Dave Trembley woke up in the middle of the night and turned on the television to see whether his former team had won or lost. Those days have ended, but he still regularly watches highlights, glances at box scores and reads game recaps.
He also still gets the itch at about 6:45 every evening, the time he used to walk from the manager's office at Camden Yards, through the home dugout and down to the right-field line to shake hands and sign autographs for Orioles fans, young and old.
It has been 12 weeks since Trembley was fired about two months into his third full season as Orioles manager. The disappointment -- from not being able to win more games and from the way he found out about his June 3 dismissal -- lingers, but his desire to remain in the game has not waned.
"It's very difficult to remove yourself from it, but as time goes on, it's a lot easier," Trembley said. "I make no bones about it. I loved the game. I loved doing what I was doing. I felt very attached to the players and coaches. It's very hard to remove yourself. It doesn't go away. I'd like to think that it was just put on sabbatical. But the game has stopped for me as far as the physical part of being involved."
Trembley had declined repeated interview requests since his firing. He has been content spending his new-found free time at home with his family in Daytona Beach, Fla., running errands for his wife, Patti, and throwing batting practice to his son, Kevin, a sophomore who plays second base for Division II Flagler College.
However, in an interview with The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, his first extensive comments to the Baltimore media, Trembley acknowledged that his first summer away from the ballpark in years has been difficult, but he said he harbors no bitterness toward the Orioles and their president of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail, and he even praised the hiring of Buck Showalter as manager.
"What you do is you come to grips with what has happened as time goes on. You understand that it has happened to just about everybody who has managed in the big leagues," said Trembley, who was fired after compiling a 187-283 record at the helm of the club, his .398 winning percentage the second-worst of any manager in Orioles history. "Whether it has become easier to accept or not, I think that's questionable. I don't think you'll ever get over the fact that something you loved doing, you're no longer involved in. But you move on. I don't think you hold any bitterness. I think you appreciate the opportunity that you have and you respect the opportunity a lot more. I think you keep a lot of things that you feel and want to say private because that's the way it should be.
"That was one of the things that Andy asked me. 'What are you going to say?' There's really nothing for me to say. I had a tremendous opportunity. I'm very appreciative of being able to have managed the Baltimore Orioles. I made an awful lot of friends and have a tremendous respect for the players, the fans and the coaches. But it's not my time. It's somebody else's time now. I'd rather go off and be private. I don't need any headlines. I'm not going to say anything bad about anybody. I hold no bad feelings. I think more times than not, that's what people want you to do or want you to say. I'm not going to do that. Gosh darn, nobody needs to feel sorry for me. I don't feel sorry for myself. I'm just very appreciative of the opportunity that I had."
Trembley, who was in the last year of his contract and is being paid by the Orioles through this season, heard plenty of rumors that he was on the hot seat, especially after his club got off to the worst start the franchise has experienced since 1988. Still, the timing of it caught him by surprise.
He was on the team charter flight after a 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees on June 3 when he looked up at the small television monitor in front of him and learned of a newspaper report, cited on ESPN's "Bottom Line," that said that he was about to be dismissed as Orioles manager.
When Trembley returned to Camden Yards that night, he was summoned to MacPhail's office and informed that he would, in fact, be fired. He quickly packed up his office and the contents of his apartment and caught a flight back to Florida the next morning.
"I'm sure everybody, myself included, obviously, would have preferred for something a little bit cleaner, but it didn't happen," Trembley said. "Sure, that was probably the toughest part of the whole ordeal. When I got back, I told Andy, 'You don't owe me anything; I'm fine.' I was able to walk out with my head up and be proud of what we accomplished and the opportunity that we had. But that was a tough day. In New York, there was a lot of people talking to you and wishing you well. You're looking at them like, what the heck are they talking about, and you're kind of piecing it together. It wasn't easy."