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Zaun, Manto, Bass: Thanks for a chance Players appreciate opportunity from Regan


As a first-year manager, Phil Regan had his share of problems with his players. Ben McDonald clashed with him about pitching out of the bullpen. Kevin Brown tossed him the ball after a bad nTC outing. Veteran players bristled at Regan's idea of changing the bunt plays in spring training.

Not all of the 1995 Orioles, however, have hard feelings.

Just ask the rookie, the career minor-leaguer and the major-league veteran.

They're at different stages of their careers, but Greg Zaun, Jeff Manto and Kevin Bass have one thing in common -- their loyalty to Regan for giving them a chance.

They placed the blame for the team's disappointing 71-73 record on the players.

"If everybody had the kind of year they were supposed to this year, a monkey could have managed this club and we would have been where Cleveland is right now," Zaun said.

For Zaun, the nephew of former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey, 1995 was a dream come true. He spent his first season in an Orioles uniform as the team's backup catcher. Regan was responsible for calling him up.

Zaun said he was sorry, but not surprised, when he heard about the firing.

"I was disappointed, to tell you the truth," Zaun said. "He was my first big-league manager. He was the guy who gave me my chance."

Jeff Manto, a 31-year-old career minor-leaguer, said he thought his chance never would come. But Regan, for a time, made Manto his everyday third baseman.

"Phil had to put the players in the right places," Manto said. "The players didn't come through."

"It's not Phil's fault," Zaun said. "He was a first-year manager. If we had won one more ballgame, we'd have finished at .500."

Unlike Manto and Zaun, Bass had played for six other major-league managers, mostly in the National League.

"I thought he was good," Bass said of Regan. "Nobody makes the right calls every single night. I thought he did the best he could do."

There were some negatives.

Manto acknowledged Regan's capricious handling of the lineup during a crucial midseason road trip to Detroit and Cleveland.

"There wasn't any consistency in what Phil was trying to do," Manto said. "That's when the players started questioning themselves. Who's going to be in the lineup today?"

Manto and Bass mentioned the troubles in the bullpen.

"In the American League, the most important thing is managing the bullpen," Manto said. "Phil, being a former relief pitcher, had some idea how to handle it."

Bass said the shortened spring training hurt the relationship between the manager and his players.

"He never really got a chance to get to know a lot of the guys," Bass said.

Roland Hemond, who resigned yesterday as general manager, also received support from the players.

"I think Roland is a very proud man," Zaun said. "He left on his terms and not on anybody else's."

"One thing Roland was with me throughout was honest," Manto said. "In this business, that's all you really ask."

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