After the Orioles lost their sixth straight game Saturday night, manager Phil Regan yelled at the team before going into his office.
"We're pathetic," he said loudly, according to some players. "We've got to start caring about winning, because I do."
Regan's underlying message was that he wanted the Orioles to play with more intensity. But how that came across was interpreted differently by different players.
Some players agreed with him, like third baseman Jeff Manto. "At times," he said, "it looks like we're not out there playing together."
Another player, who didn't want to be identified, said, "He's absolutely right. We need to start picking it up."
Others felt Regan implied he was the only one to care about the losing, and they felt alienated by his words. "He just can't say that," said one player. "He's just separating himself from what's going on."
Manto took exception to that. "He's not separating himself," Manto said. "We're not winning, and he's trying to light a spark under this team. If some guys took it the wrong way, maybe they better take a look in the mirror.
"If you took what he said the way he meant it, you'd understand he was trying to blow off some steam and . . . get this team going. If some guys took it the wrong way, maybe what he said was aimed at them."
Regan said: "I don't really care how they interpret it. I think they all got the point."
Leaders laid-back, Regan says
Before the game, Regan talked about the team's emotional makeup.
"It's kind of a laid-back team," he said. "It's the personalities of the players. I'm not knocking it, because it's the personality of the team. If you go down the roster, you can see that."
He listed a number of players, Harold Baines, Cal Ripken, Kevin Bass, and mentioned how they are basically quiet people.
"That's not to say they don't have a fire inside of them," he said. "They're just not the rah-rah types. . . . Teams don't always follow the guy who talks the loudest."
Mills to be demoted?
The acquisition of Gene Harris, who will be in uniform for the start of a three-game series with New York, means the Orioles probably will make a roster move involving one of the 12 pitchers on their major-league roster sometime this week.
The most likely candidate is right-hander Alan Mills, who had an 8.55 ERA before yesterday's game and can be sent to the minor leagues without being passed through waivers. Mills gave up a critical two-run double to Juan Samuel on Saturday night, and afterward, Regan said Mills couldn't get away with trying to beat opposing hitters with just fastballs.
Mills may have helped himself with three solid innings yesterday, but the Orioles may want to get another position player in the majors to replace Andy Van Slyke. General manager Roland Hemond said more changes would be considered before tonight's game.
Among the possibilities:
* The Orioles could call up right-handed-hitting outfielder Mark Smith, who is batting .296 with five homers and 41 RBIs in 49 games for Triple-A Rochester. When Curtis Goodwin was promoted June 2, the Orioles also talked about calling up Smith and placing catcher Matt Nokes on the disabled list. They decided against this, but at the time, Smith was told to be patient and his time would come.
* Infielder Jeff Huson, a utility man batting .265 for the Red Wings. Regan liked what he saw of Huson, who last played in the majors for Texas in 1994, during spring training, before the strike ended.
* Outfielder Damon Buford, batting .309 in 14 games for Rochester. Regan could use Buford as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, and balance his bench, which has been overloaded with left-handed hitters.
* Sherman Obando, who was sent down in May after struggling for the Orioles. Since being demoted, Obando is batting .273 with four homers and 14 RBIs, and has been playing right, left and first base, as well as being used as a DH.
The Orioles also could make room for Harris by moving right-hander Mike Oquist, though Oquist is out of options, or again pursue a deal involving left-hander Jamie Moyer.
Around the horn
Arthur Rhodes, likely to be promoted to start tomorrow's game against the Yankees, has a 2.70 ERA in four games for Rochester, allowing 27 hits, eight walks and striking out 33 in 30 innings. . . . Cleveland Indians general manager John Hart called Hemond recently to offer right-handed pitcher Jason Grimsley, but a deal is unlikely because Grimsley hasn't thrown much lately and is out of options. Regan coached Grimsley in Cleveland.