SAN DIEGO -- While Dave Trembley will be preparing today to make his major league managerial debut after toiling in the minors for two decades, several of the Orioles' top executives will be in Chicago to interview Joe Girardi to become the long-term successor of the fired Sam Perlozzo.
Andy MacPhail, who is expected to be named the next chief operating officer, executive vice president Mike Flanagan and general counsel Russell Smouse are expected to meet with Girardi this morning, according to two club sources.
Girardi, the National League Manager of the Year for Florida in 2006 who was fired after a dispute with Marlins ownership, is the Orioles' top choice and could be offered the job today, depending on the results of the interview, the sources said. However, the Orioles are also prepared to conduct other interviews if necessary.
Girardi did not return calls yesterday, nor did his agent, Steve Mandell. At the news conference yesterday at Camden Yards to announce Perlozzo's ouster, Flanagan declined to comment on Girardi or any other potential managerial candidates, saying: "We're not going to speculate on what's going to happen down the road."
Flanagan said the Orioles don't have a timetable on making a decision on a long-term replacement for Perlozzo, the first manager in the majors to be fired this season.
"At this stage, Dave is the interim manager, and there's no sort of time frame on that," Flanagan said. "We think Dave deserves a chance, and we're going to play it like that."
Flanagan also announced that Perlozzo's coaching staff will remain intact, including pitching coach Leo Mazzone, who was wooed from Atlanta after 15 1/2 highly successful seasons as the Braves' pitching coach largely because of his close relationship with Perlozzo. Mazzone is signed through the 2008 season and told team executives he intends to honor the contract.
"We talked to him and he was disappointed for his friend, but he also feels like there are a lot of positive things from the pitching staff and he wants to see it through," Orioles vice president Jim Duquette said. "He said that he sees a lot of interesting things with the young pitching staff, and he thinks it has done a lot of good things. He said that he has unfinished business. He wants to see it through, and he said, 'I hope this is my last stop.' "
Approached by a reporter at the team hotel last night, Mazzone said only, "Not tonight."
Trembley, 55, has managed in the minor leagues for 20 seasons, the last four with the Orioles, before finally reaching the majors when he was hired as field coordinator, setting up pre-game workouts and batting practice schedules. The Orioles later made him bullpen coach when Rick Dempsey took a job with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and Trembley has spent most games in the dugout assisting bench coach Tom Trebelhorn, who has been forced to leave the club on multiple occasions to be with his ailing wife in Arizona.
Trembley has been on the bench for every series except two, including the opener in Minnesota. He said he's in the mind-set that he's going to manage tonight's game in San Diego "and every game after that."
"I wasn't told that I'm the interim manager," he said, "and I'm not expecting that."
Trembley has been in professional baseball for 23 years. As a minor league manager, he compiled a 1,369-1,413 record, won two league championships and earned Manager of the Year awards in three leagues. In December 2001, Baseball America voted him one of minor league baseball's top five managers of the past 20 years.
"He's an experienced guy. He knows how to handle a club, he's been around a long time and we're happy that he accepted the interim job today," Flanagan said.
Before the team headed to the airport and boarded the charter for San Diego, Trembley addressed the players to ease any concerns they might have with the change in leadership and the direction of the ballclub.
"I've always been a direct person," he said. "I think the guys need to be told the truth, and I tell the truth. I'll let them know what their roles are and what my expectations are. The team has underachieved. We all have. And we have to do something about it. The problems are obvious, and the solution will take everybody's effort.
"I've always tried to be a team guy, and that's what I'm trying to do now, be a team guy. I'm trying to get the team headed in the right direction and play a little better. I appreciate the opportunity. This isn't the way I wanted it to happen, but that's part of the game."
But how long will Trembley be at the helm of the club?
That decision will mostly lie with MacPhail, whose surprise hiring to head the organization's baseball operations apparently will become official tomorrow. MacPhail, the top executive for the Chicago Cubs from 1994 to 2006, has ties with both Baker and Girardi, who was a catcher for the Cubs.
In his one season in Florida, Girardi led the Marlins to a 78-84 finish and had them in contention for a playoff berth until late in the season despite having baseball's youngest team and lowest payroll.
Immensely popular with his players in Florida, Girardi was undone by his controlling style that alienated Marlins ownership. He is known as a no-nonsense manager who is a stickler for fundamentals and playing the game right.
That's one of the attractions to Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who has watched his team make mental mistakes seemingly on a nightly basis during their spiral into last place. But it is no sure thing that Girardi would take the job. He took himself out of consideration for the Washington Nationals' opening before this season, saying it wasn't the right opportunity at the time.
JOE GIRARDI SCOUTING REPORT
Considered a players' manager. Has been known to run with his pitchers.
Stickler for fundamentals and physical conditioning.
Has winning background with the Yankees.
Fostered us-against-the-world attitude in Florida, with world including the media and sometimes even the front office. Had strained relationship with Marlins club executives.