Little: 'I've got a lot left to offer'
BALTIMORE -- Grady Little is ready to become a major league manager again, in spite of his experience with the Boston Red Sox.
Four days after being let go by the Red Sox, Little interviewed Friday to become manager of the Baltimore Orioles. He met for several hours with Orioles vice presidents Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan, who hope to reach a decision by late next week.
Earlier this week, Little was home playing with his grandchildren, considering the possibility of taking a lengthy break from baseball.
"I did think about that, but I've got a lot of confidence in what I can do," Little said. "I feel like I've got a lot left to offer on the baseball field. It's going to be somewhere."
Little won more than 90 games in each of his two season with Boston, but was dismissed soon after the Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees in the AL championship series.
The series turned in Game 7, when Little stuck with ace Pedro Martinez during a three-run eighth inning that enabled the Yankees to pull into a 5-5 tie. New York won it in the 11th.
"We had a great season in Boston. It didn't turn out well in the end," he said. "I made a decision to leave a pitcher in the game, and that decision got bad results. And so, there you go."
Little figured his time in Boston was probably up anyway.
"When nothing was done about my contract coming out of spring training, you don't know what's going on," he said. "This is a new ownership group in Boston, and they've got some ideas to go in a different direction. I think those ideas started long before the seventh game in Boston."
Little was the eighth person to interview for the job that became vacant when Baltimore fired Mike Hargrove was fired Sept. 29. Little is one of only two applicants -- along with Terry Francona -- with major league managerial experience.
Eddie Murray, Sam Perlozzo, Rich Dauer, Rick Dempsey, Tom Foley and Lee Mazzilli also have interviewed.
Little interviewed in 1999 for the same job, but the Orioles chose Hargrove, who had just been fired by Cleveland after the Indians made an earlier-than-expected exit from the playoffs.
Now, Little is in the same position that Hargrove was: looking for work after leading his team into the playoffs.
Little believes he's far more qualified for the Orioles' job than he was four years ago.
"I felt like my second year in Boston I was better than the first," he said. "I feel the same away about the opportunity to manage again. I feel like I'll be a better manager the second time around."
Little would love the opportunity to work with the rebuilding Orioles, who went 9-10 against Boston this season. Baltimore is on a franchise-record run of six straight losing seasons, but has a strong nucleus of young players and intends to be active in the free-agent market this winter.
"This ballclub is headed in the right direction," he said.
Little's incentive to return has nothing to do with proving the Red Sox wrong.
"That doesn't enter into my thinking at all," he said. "I know I did the best I could up there, and they decided to go in a different direction that didn't involve Grady Little."
Working with the Orioles would involve less media scrutiny than he received in Boston, but he won't have near the amount of talent he had with the Red Sox.
So be it.
"I feel like I'm a guy that can take whatever player that is allotted him and make then the best he can be," Little said. "What I've done in Boston shows that."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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