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'Optimist' Regan on '96: 'I plan on coming back' O's manager, Angelos to meet next week


TORONTO -- Orioles manager Phil Regan called owner Peter Angelos on Tuesday and asked for a meeting sometime in the next week, as part of the organization's general postseason review.

They likely will discuss player evaluations and possible changes for next year. But at some point, Regan's status as Orioles manager is bound to come up, in the aftermath of what has been a disappointing season.

"I guess I'm an optimist," Regan said yesterday, "but I'm under the assumption I'm coming back. I have a contract for [the 1996 season]. I hear a lot of rumors [about getting fired], but I don't deal in rumors."

There's one rumor in particular Regan has heard and will continue to hear. As of Monday, the day after the regular season ends, Oakland manager Tony La Russa has a 10-day window in which he can negotiate with any team. Interested clubs don't even have to ask permission to talk to La Russa.

If La Russa finds another deal to his liking, he can leave, no strings attached. If he doesn't, La Russa has one year remaining on his contract with Oakland, for $1.25 million. The Orioles wanted to talk to La Russa last year, before they hired Regan.

However, Regan remains confident he'll be back. "I feel myself and the coaching staff have done a pretty good job," he said. "We've had a lot of injuries to deal with -- Andy Van Slyke and Chris Hoiles. We lost most of our starting pitchers. We've had

TC lot of things happen that we didn't foresee. The injuries, the strike, the shortened spring training.

"And yet, I think we've held the club together; we haven't been buried. . . . I think we're finishing strong, and that says a lot. Our guys are playing hard, they haven't given up. I plan on coming back."

During the organizational meetings in spring training, Regan would sit and listen to player evaluations, and all he could do was listen; he hadn't seen most of the players being discussed.

He and the Orioles' coaching staff sat down yesterday and reviewed the roster.

"I compare myself to a lot of players," Regan said. "It takes time to make adjustments. . . . I've learned a lot. I've got a better handle on the ballclub. [In spring], they told you this player can do this and that player can do that. But until you have them on the club and see them play, you really don't know what they can do.

"A lot of it is getting to know the players' personalities. Like Brady Anderson -- he's getting to know me. When we first went to spring training, he wanted to do something, I wanted him to do something else. We had some strong feelings, but we worked things out. Now, to me, Brady has made some of the biggest improvements on this team; he's doing the little things we want him to do to try and help this team win. I've learned a lot about [Cal] Ripken, and [Rafael] Palmeiro."

Referring to his exchanges with players such as Ben McDonald, Regan said, "I'm not saying there haven't been hard words. But, hey, Earl Weaver had hard words with players, and he was a great manager.

"It takes a while to get a system in, and there are a lot of circumstances [to deal with]. Felipe Alou was the manager of the year [in the NL] last year, and the Expos are struggling. Tony La Russa is a great manager, and he's in last place. You lose some players to injury, and that has a lot of effect."

Regan smiled when asked about the reports he could be bumped to general manager.

"No one," he said, "has ever talked to me about being the general manager. My contract is to manage."

Would he find it unfair if he were fired? "That's baseball," he said. "I don't think anything's unfair."

If he is replaced this off-season, the Orioles would be obligated to pay Regan his 1996 salary, or the difference if he were to take another job in another organization.

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