As the Orioles began filing into the clubhouse yesterday morning, their former pitching coach was packing his bags for the trip home to Boca Raton, Fla.
It appears that Mark Wiley has elected to take the high road on his way out of town.
Wiley was informed before Saturday's game that Ray Miller had replaced him as pitching coach. Wiley was reassigned to scouting duties within the organization, but he asked for more time to consider the offer.
Team executives Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan broke the news to Wiley, who cleaned out his coaches office locker and left the ballpark before batting practice.
"I didn't have any inkling this was coming," he said. "They just called me in [Saturday] morning and said they wanted to shake things up. I heard they said basically the same thing in the press conference.
"I'm not a person who really says anything bad about anybody. I'll just go along with it. You find out later whether this was the right move or not."
The Orioles continue to have the worst ERA in the American League, and the most walks allowed. They also continue to use three rookies in the rotation, including Daniel Cabrera, who hadn't pitched above Single-A until this year. Two starters, Kurt Ainsworth and Eric DuBose, are on the disabled list.
Miller's reputation for calming young starters appealed to Flanagan, who won the 1979 Cy Young Award with him as pitching coach.
"I think everybody pretty much knew what we had," Wiley said.
"Part of DuBose's problem was the bone chips in his elbow. It seemed as the games went on, he got worse and worse extension, but we really didn't know that was the problem. He had a little irritation one time. ...
"The young kids are progressing. [Erik] Bedard and Cabrera have definitely improved. [Matt] Riley went through his thing where he was in the bullpen for a very short time and then went on the DL. He's only had a couple starts so it's hard to judge where he's at.
"Now [Rodrigo] Lopez is back in the rotation and he'll do a representative job, and things will settle down. I saw the staff start to improve and thought it would continue to improve."
One of Wiley's biggest disappointments this year was his inability to get more out of Sidney Ponson. Designated the staff ace after re-signing as a free agent, Ponson is 3-10 with a 6.22 ERA.
"I think Sidney ... will straighten out," Wiley said. "He's pitching pretty good right now and having some problems getting runs. But that happens. When you're the No. 1 guy, you have to pitch through that.
"I know he expected to win more and so did we. But the season isn't over yet. By the end, he could very well have close to the same numbers he normally has. Last year I had him and he had 14 wins for us. It's a different situation. It's a different manager and a different ballclub, but he's the same person and has the same ability."
Wiley maintained a strong bond with former manager Mike Hargrove, but his relationship with Lee Mazzilli never reached that point. As it turns out, there wasn't enough time.
"Obviously when you're with someone for longer periods of time, they know you and you know them. With [Mazzilli], it was a feeling-out process," Wiley said.
"I think Maz makes a lot of the decisions based on the way he sees things. I'd give him advice, what I thought was right in certain situations, but he's going to do the things he wants to do. And that's the manager's prerogative."
In the next week, the Orioles should find out whether Wiley is staying in the organization.
"I told them I'd call in 10 days or so and talk about it," he said. "I was in no situation to make a knee-jerk decision on what I wanted to do. I want to see what's going on."
Around the horn
Don Levinski, acquired with Denny Bautista in the Jeff Conine trade last August, was removed from Single-A Frederick's rotation this month and placed in the bullpen. Levinski was 1-6 with a 7.09 ERA in 11 games as a starter. He went into the weekend with a 6.52 ERA in 9 2/3 relief innings. ... Miguel Tejada extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning double. ... David Newhan extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... B.J. Ryan has nine straight scoreless outings.