Dave Trembley's audition lasted a little more than two months, long enough for Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to decide that Trembley is the right man to lead the organization next season.
The Orioles will hold a news conference today to announce that Trembley's contract will be extended through the 2008 season, according to several team sources.
MacPhail declined last night to confirm that a decision has been reached, but said: "I don't think that anyone makes a secret of the good job that Dave is doing. I think the results speak for themselves."
With last night's 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in the first game of a 10-game homestand, the Orioles improved to 29-25 under Trembley, who took over for the dismissed Sam Perlozzo on June 18 and has dealt with injuries to several of his top players. MacPhail made it clear that Trembley would be judged more on preparation and the effort and energy of the team than results, and he's gotten high marks in all the categories.
MacPhail announced July 31 that Trembley would manage the club through the end of the season, at which time the manager situation would be re-evaluated. However, MacPhail apparently has seen enough to determine that Trembley, who started the season as Perlozzo's bullpen coach, deserves to have his contract extended through 2008. Terms of the contract are unknown.
Trembley declined to comment about his status before last night's game. However, team sources confirmed that Trembley has been notified that he'll return next season. MacPhail and Trembley have had several discussions already about next year, including one on Saturday when the two dined together in Toronto.
The news that Trembley will return was greeted enthusiastically in the Orioles clubhouse, which has been vocal in its support of the manager, who is just the seventh man in modern baseball history to manage in the big leagues without having played professionally.
"People forget about what this guy has done to get there. That's what I admire and respect about Dave Trembley," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "There's no, 'I was a player for 10 years, and then I was a first base coach in the big leagues for three, and I was a bench for three, and then I got a job.' Dave Trembley came out of nowhere. He appreciates managing at this level. He appreciates where he's been. He's done a phenomenal job, just with the respect that he's getting from this club. When he speaks, everybody listens."
Added infielder-designated hitter Aubrey Huff: "I think he's earned it. He was a career minor league manager, and then he came up here. He's definitely earned a shot. I think you've seen how we've played in the second half."
Trembley, 55, served as a manager in the Orioles' minor league system for four years before being hired before this season as bullpen coach and field coordinator. Before his promotion, he had spent 22 years in professional baseball, including 20 as a minor league manager. He compiled a 1369-1413 record in the minors, winning two league titles and Manager of the Year awards in three different leagues.
He impressed club officials this spring with his attention to detail and his organizational skills in planning and supervising spring training workouts. He's maintained those same traits since taking over for Perlozzo. Trembley insists that his players abide by his three-sentence mantra: "Be on time. Be professional. Respect the game."
Trembley was incensed before Saturday's game when a handful of his players arrived late for the pre-game stretch. He loudly admonished the offenders, saying "I don't want anybody to ever be late," and even pointed his bat for emphasis. One of Trembley's first moves since being promoted was to make sure the Orioles stretch as a team, and he makes no exceptions.
Tejada last month asked to be excused from stretching because he had already been on the field and taken early fielding practice, but Trembley denied his request. Tejada said that he had no problem with his manager's decision.
"That's the most important thing," Tejada said. "He treats everybody the same and he respects everybody. I think everybody respects him just because of that."
Huff said that the players appreciate that Trembley plays no favorites.
"I don't care who you are, you better be on time," Huff said. "But everybody respects him because he's such a good communicator. He's always telling guys where they stand and what their roles are."
When Trembley was named interim manager, it was originally thought that his stint would be short even though Trembley said in his first news conference that he wasn't going about the job as if it would soon be somebody else's. However, on the day Perlozzo was fired, MacPhail had already made arrangements to interview Joe Girardi, the 2006 National League Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins.
The Orioles offered Girardi the job, but he turned it down, citing issues with the timing of the opportunity. MacPhail then vowed to slow down the process. As it turns out, there will be no process.
"To bring in somebody we don't know next year, that's not going to be helpful," Tejada said. "I think it's great if they keep him here. Now, he knows everybody. He knows what he could change. We were hoping it was him. We don't need a big-name manager here, like Girardi. We want a guy like Dave. He's going to be one of the guys. He's going to treat you with respect."
The Dave Trembley file
Born Oct. 31, 1951, in Carthage, N.Y. Education Bachelor's (physical education) and master's (education) degrees from SUNY-Brockport
Amateur baseball experience
High school and junior college coach in Los Angeles area, 1977-84
Professional baseball experience
Los Angeles area scout for Chicago Cubs, 1984
Minor league coach for Cubs, 1985
Minor league manager, 1986-89, 1991-2006 (Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Orioles)
Director of Pirates' minor league complex, 1990
Major league experience
Bullpen coach, interim manager for Orioles, 2007