Mazzilli discovers mellower Weaver

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The fight and fury of Earl Weaver is all gone. The Hall of Fame manager admitted as much yesterday, when he made his annual stop at Orioles camp to pick up his spring training tickets and shake a few hands.

Short and sweet: That about describes Weaver's visit -- and, strangely, after all these years, it describes Weaver, too.

"I had a lot of happy years, but managing is not easy. It's not fun. You're always stepping on someone else's toes. You have to be that kind of person. When you have to release a person like Lee May, things like that started to get to me," Weaver said.

In other words: No way Weaver comes back and does what oldsters like Frank Robinson or Jack McKeon do.

"That's their choice. They enjoy it. I kind of got a little soft-hearted at the end. When you have to sit a player like Brooks Robinson on the bench, that got to me. I don't want any part of that heartache," he said.

"Besides, I don't know about McKeon or Frank, but I have a lot of doctors' appointments I have to take time to go to," he said.

Weaver did want to spend a few minutes with the new skipper of an organization now deeply committed to returning to the Oriole way of Weaver's pennant-winning, 100-win years. So the old manager and the new one, Lee Mazzilli, sat together in the dugout for a few minutes during morning drills.

"How can you not want to talk to Earl?" Mazzilli said.

Mostly they compared notes, agreeing that crisp workouts and clear expectations are good ways to keep players focused and productive.

"I don't have any advice for him. All managers in the major leagues are going to use what they've learned from past managers," Weaver said.

What kind of manager will Mazzilli turn out to be?

It's one of the most interesting story lines of the spring and coming season, as scrutiny comes and defining moments arise. There's a ways to go in the process, especially as Mazzilli, Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan have to make decisions on several important fronts.

Who's going to be in the starting rotation behind Sidney Ponson? Mazzilli said he wants to use anyone who's ready, anyone who can help the Orioles win.

What's going to happen at second base, where Jerry Hairston might think it's his job to lose except that Brian Roberts offers versatility as a switch-hitter?

Whether or not the Orioles decide to trade one of the second basemen might influence the decision of whether to keep Mark McLemore as a very versatile backup, or, if both second basemen make the roster, what do you do with Jack Cust, B.J. Surhoff, Marty Cordova, David Segui or the Rule 5 player, Jose Bautista?

"We're set in a lot of areas, but it's more like we have to find a guy to take out of spots," Mazzilli said.

"We have to let it play out," he said.

For a prologue on the Mazzilli years, Orioles fans can watch TV the next few days and see a new ad featuring the new Orioles manager. It's a funny bit about how eager Mazzilli is for the season to start.

Mazzilli is filmed inside an empty, snow-covered Camden Yards, yelling at a phantom umpire for blowing calls.

Magic Number
to clinch first place in the AL East
Record: -
Lead: games
Remaining: games




Eduardo A. Encina

Eduardo A. Encina

Orioles beat writer
Peter Schmuck

Peter Schmuck

Sports Columnist
Dan Connolly

Dan Connolly

Orioles and national baseball writer
Dean Jones Jr.

Dean Jones Jr.

Orioles editor