The Orioles' managerial search reached a compelling turn yesterday when Sam Perlozzo, a man of fierce loyalty who had spent the past three years as Mike Hargrove's bench coach, was asked to describe how his managing style would differ from Hargrove's.
Perlozzo paused a second and looked down from the television cameras at the B&O warehouse. His expression was somewhat pained.
"I'm not really going to compare myself to Mike Hargrove," Perlozzo said. "I don't think that's really fair to him or myself. But I will tell you that I'm an energetic guy. I like communicating a lot with our players. I don't think I would stop coaching. I've been coaching for 17 years in the big leagues. I think I would continue to do that."
Fifteen days after firing Hargrove, and 12 days after interviewing Hall of Fame slugger Eddie Murray, the Orioles resumed the interview process with Perlozzo, who spent four hours meeting with Orioles vice presidents Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, along with other members of the front office staff.
The Orioles then made Perlozzo available to the media, and a large throng of reporters - comparable to the one that greeted Murray after his interview - turned out to grill Candidate No. 2.
Perlozzo, 52, was born in Cumberland, and he still lives there in the offseason. After spending the past eight seasons as an Orioles coach, he considers this a dream job. His big league playing career spanned just 12 games combined with the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres, but he said he's not daunted going through this process against three prominent former Orioles in Murray, Rich Dauer and Rick Dempsey.
"I don't feel like it's an uphill battle at all," Perlozzo said. "I'm really not in competition with the other candidates; I'm in competition with myself. I put myself on the table, and I feel that's good enough."
Today, the Orioles will interview Dauer, and Dempsey will follow tomorrow. Beattie said the club also has been seeking permission to interview candidates from other teams, but he did not specify who those candidates were.
"I would think there will be more interviews after we get the next two guys [Dauer and Dempsey] done," he said.
Those interviews would take place next week, and Beattie said the hire will probably not be made until November. With Murray and Perlozzo still considered the favorites by industry insiders, Perlozzo said he tried to show Beattie and Flanagan a side of himself they might not have seen in his coaching role.
Besides working under Hargrove, he has also spent six years under Lou Piniella, four years under Davey Johnson and two under Ray Miller.
"I've learned something from every one of them," he said. "They all had distinct styles. I thought some of them handled pitching better than others, and some of them were a little less tolerant of things that happened at the major league level. I learned about temperaments, what works, what doesn't work and who can use them."
Hargrove was criticized for not being fiery enough in the dugout, and there's a sense Perlozzo would have a slightly different approach - still controlled but a little more prone to let his temper flare.
"I have this tendency to use my Italian heritage, so I can do that if it's necessary," Perlozzo said. "It's not a problem; it's happened. But you know, you never want to lose the respect of your players. Getting in your face - that means that there's something drastically wrong. Demanding acceptable behavior and an acceptable caliber [of play], at the major league level, we can address that."
Asked if he would be a players' manager, Perlozzo drew a chuckle when he said, "Only if they do the right things."
Notes: Sean Douglass, who went 2-6 in three disappointing stints with the Orioles over the past three seasons, was claimed on waivers by the Twins. The Orioles also trimmed four other players from their 40-man roster, passing Willis Roberts, Jose Leon, Felix Escalona and Mike Paradis through waivers,and assigning them outright to Triple-A Ottawa. Those four players can decline the assignment and elect free agency, which is what catcher Robert Machado did earlier this month. Paradis was a first-round selection in 1999, but he has gone 29-47 in five minor-league seasons. Roberts, 28, had a solid year in middle relief in 2002, but this year he posted a 5.72 ERA in 26 games before going on the disabled list with a torn elbow ligament. He would have been eligible for arbitration had he remained on the 40-man roster.