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Regan, Angelos dig in


Orioles owner Peter Angelos isn't complaining about his bTC rookie manager.

He's inviting him to lunch.

Yesterday, Angelos met with Orioles manager Phil Regan at Boccaccio, a favorite dining spot of the owner's in Little Italy.

They ate Italian and celebrated the end of the Orioles' recent seven-game losing streak. Angelos described the meeting as routine.

"We had a good exchange," said the owner, who noted that he had not spoken to Regan since the season began nearly two months ago. "I was just checking on him to see if we could be of any assistance."

Angelos said the discussions touched on various improvements that the Orioles could make to their club, including additions to the starting pitching staff. But he indicated that Regan did not overtly ask for the changes in the roster.

"He's pretty resourceful and he knows what he needs to do," the owner said. "We're ready to help whenever he makes a request."

Back at the park, Regan was evasive when asked about the meeting.

"We just wanted to get together because we haven't had lunch," Regan said, refusing to name the restaurant, let alone what was discussed. "We just wanted to talk over some things."

Despite almost daily roster changes recently, the Orioles haven't come close to living up to the owner's expectations.

With last night's 8-7 win over the Yankees, the Orioles climbed out of a last-place tie with New York in the American League East, but they have a losing record at Camden Yards (11-12) and on the road (10-16) and are struggling to stay within striking distance of the first-place Boston Red Sox.

Angelos made it clear, however, that the subpar start hasn't shaken his faith in Regan. He called the manager "a first-rate baseball man" and praised him for doing "a fine job."

In fact, the owner generally was supportive of the entire organization, including general manager Roland Hemond. As the Orioles have sunk in the standings, Hemond's job security has been openly questioned.

But Angelos said: "I have no complaints with any front-office personnel."

The owner even had a gentle word for two of the most recent ex-Orioles, Andy Van Slyke and Matt Nokes. As they left the club this week, both veteran players complained that the Orioles are in a state of confusion. Nokes said Orioles management "didn't have a clue" when it assembled the 1995 roster.

Angelos referred to Nokes' assessment as "the unhappy comments of an unhappy, frustrated professional baseball player.

"I think Nokes wasn't able to achieve his previous level of play. He's very disappointed and frustrated, and so are we. Nonetheless, we wish him well."

The owner disputed Nokes' contention that the Orioles signed him without giving thought to his role.

"He was the reserve catcher, a left-handed hitter to complement Chris Hoiles, a right-handed hitter. So it seems to me that much thought went into his selection."

Angelos, a Baltimore lawyer, said that he expected the Orioles to pull out of their tailspin, and that the club's recent problems aren't that different from those of the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.

"What has happened to the Orioles, Blue Jays and Yankees is not unusual," the owner said. "Indeed, baseball is an unpredictable game. You think you have all the answers and that the way ahead looks promising, without problems. Suddenly, that can change to a situation where you have nothing but problems.

"We need to get the team playing up to its expected level, and I think that's going to happen. That is always our goal, to win a championship, and despite our setbacks, I still think we have a chance to do that."

Angelos did rule out a role for himself. He said he won't go to the clubhouse to deliver fiery motivational speeches to Orioles players. Those talks were a favorite gimmick of a former Orioles owner, renowned trial lawyer Edward Bennett Williams.

Said Angelos: "I reserve my pep talks for negotiating with other lawyers and discussions of cases with juries."

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