SAN DIEGO -- Less than 24 hours after firing Sam Perlozzo, Orioles officials were in Chicago interviewing Joe Girardi, the man they hope will take Perlozzo's job.
Incoming Orioles chief operating officer Andy MacPhail, executive vice president Mike Flanagan, general counsel Russell Smouse and Lou Angelos, an attorney and the son of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, met for more than two hours with Girardi.
While the Orioles did not offer Girardi the job, they could do so as early as today, according to multiple club sources. Club officials left the interview impressed with the 2006 National League Manager of the Year, who was fired after one season with the Florida Marlins following a dispute with ownership.
Flanagan declined to characterize how the meeting went, though Girardi, 42, called the interview productive and said he expects to hear from the Orioles within a few days. Bullpen coach Dave Trembley served as the Orioles' interim manager in last night's series opener in San Diego.
Former Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker and Davey Johnson, the last manager to lead the Orioles to a winning season, are also on the Orioles' list, but interviews had not been scheduled with either as of last night. Popular former catcher Rick Dempsey, currently a broadcaster with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, could be interviewed for the position today, according to two team sources.
Major League Baseball rules stipulate that when hiring in key positions, such as general manager, assistant general manager and field manager, minority candidates have to be considered. But if the Orioles communicate to the commissioner's office that Girardi is the man they want and interviewing a minority would be done only to satisfy the rule, they may not be required to do so.
"They have a process that they need to get through and we'll see what happens," Girardi said. "They basically told me that they want to do it sooner rather than later. But it is a process. It was a good meeting. I am not sure what their timetable is."
Girardi, currently a broadcaster for the New York Yankees, with whom he played for four of his 15 seasons, winning three World Series, said he planned to research the Orioles while he awaits the club's decision.
Girardi, who kept the 2006 Marlins - who had the youngest team in the league and the lowest payroll - in wild-card contention for much of the season, likely would get his pick of several managerial openings after the season.
That has led to several baseball commentators questioning why Girardi would be interested in the Orioles, who entered last night 11 games under .500 and headed for their 10th straight losing season.
"I don't get caught up in what people say, whether you should or you shouldn't do something," Girardi said. "It comes down to whether it is a good fit for your family. I have three children and a wife. Everything has to be a fit. I don't really worry about what other people say if it fits for us."
Yankees manager Joe Torre, one of Girardi's mentors, told reporters last night that he would like to see Girardi manage again.
"He has to be the one, obviously, to make the decision whether he's comfortable with it," Torre said. "I have not talked to him since his name was mentioned. ... I think the next time he jumps into it I think he's going to have to feel secure with having the backing of everybody in the organization."
The presence of MacPhail, whose hiring is expected to be announced today, could work in the Orioles' favor. Girardi played for the Cubs from 2000 to 2002, during which MacPhail was team president.
"Obviously I have a relationship with Andy and I have the utmost respect for him," Girardi said. "It was good to see his face. It is a very familiar face to me."
Girardi was a top candidate for the Cubs and Washington Nationals openings this offseason, but Lou Piniella got the Chicago job and Girardi pulled himself out of consideration for the Nationals vacancy, citing concerns with relocating his family.
"I made it known that I want to manage again, but it has to be in the right situation for me," he said. "I don't think my batteries needed to be recharged. There were just some things that I wanted to do and some situations that I want to take care of. And I want to manage again."
Johnson, who managed the Orioles in 1996 and 1997, leading them to two playoff berths before he resigned after a dispute with Peter Angelos, said he would listen if the Orioles called about their managerial opening.
"It's no secret that I love Baltimore and I didn't accomplish what I wanted to accomplish there," Johnson said yesterday. "There is no secret about that. As far as them asking me back, it's real premature. It's always that way with you guys. You guys are always 10 miles ahead of everyone else, or at least think you are. ... I like to deal more in reality than in what if. That is how I operate."
Johnson, a close friend of Perlozzo's, said he planned to call him soon. He acknowledged that it hurt to see the Orioles in such poor shape, and the challenge of getting them back on track is intriguing.
"I like challenges," he said. "The one thing that I don't like is seeing the great town of Baltimore not have a good team. That's where I learned to play the game and I was fortunate enough to go back there and manage. I am just like other Baltimore fans that want their city to have a good team."