"I always look at things with realistic eyes. I don't want sympathetic ears. I don't want 'woe is me' stuff,'" Showalter said. "Get better. … Managers, coaches, nobody's got all the answers. Every day passes, I get better."

It's that attitude that has afforded Showalter respect within the clubhouse. That and his track record, which includes 958 big league wins, two Manager of the Year Awards and winning seasons with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.

"I think it is important to know you have a manager that has 'been there, done that' before. That plays a big part, especially with young teams," Hendrickson said. "I think that just enables us to trust him, and I think that is important because, with the amount of young guys that are here, you want to have someone that's got a little bit of a presence to him as a manager."

The Orioles' four skippers before Showalter had never managed in the major leagues; they seemingly were learning on the fly. That's not the case with Showalter, and that hasn't been lost on the field or in the clubhouse.

"Definitely a difference. Strong leadership from the top, from the manager's spot," said Orioles veteran starter Jeremy Guthrie, who has been managed by four men in his five seasons with the team. "And a clear direction, a clear goal each and every day of what we are trying to accomplish, not just as individuals, but as an organization.

"I think there has been a huge improvement there, and I think everyone knows where we are trying to go now."

The question is whether they can get there under Showalter. In each of his three previous managerial jobs, Showalter has been viewed as the captain who rights the ship. But he has been jettisoned by the time those clubs have reached the promised land.

The three men who have replaced Showalter as manager — Joe Torre in New York, Bob Brenly in Arizona and Ron Washington in Texas — have gone on to manage a World Series. Torre and Brenly won world championships in the year after Showalter departed.

At that Camden Yards news conference a year ago, Showalter jokingly compared the situation to raising a daughter, then watching someone else walk her down the wedding aisle.

The championship altar seems particularly distant in Baltimore these days, and Showalter's contract expires after the 2013 season. The daily grind of a baseball season, including the constant travel and its pressure-cooker nature for someone so intense and committed, could be taking its toll on Showalter, 55. His trusted sidekick, Mark Connor, resigned as Orioles pitching coach in June because he felt he no longer could give his all to the position.

There has been speculation that perhaps Showalter would be more content leading the club as general manager if MacPhail, whose contract expires at season's end, steps aside or is forced out.

Showalter quickly dismisses that talk — "I got my hands full here. … I'm just trying to be a manager" — and praises MacPhail: "He's a good man with a rich track record. … He's my boss, and I've enjoyed working with him. I'd be happy to continue with that."

Ultimately, Showalter said, the job is what he thought it would be when he was introduced last August. It's a challenge, and one that has no specific timetable — just an end goal.

"I don't think you can say, 'at this date' and 'at this date.' You've got to look at it the way fans look at it, and so do I at the end of the day. I don't want to make one excuse, and there's one around every corner," Showalter said.

"We want to put something together to stand the test of time. Just about every great situation — New York, Tampa, Atlanta, Arizona — there were times where it looked pretty tough and some things started clicking."

Notes: Double-A Bowie outfielder L.J. Hoes was named Eastern League Player of the Week after going 12-for-26 (.462 average) with a double, four homers, seven RBIs and seven runs. … Short-season Single-A Aberdeen left-hander Trent Howard was chosen as New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week. The Orioles' seventh-round pick out of Central Michigan in June, Howard pitched 11 scoreless innings last week, going 1-0 while striking out 15 batters and allowing four hits and four walks.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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