Perlozzo: 'I truly believed I was the guy that could do it'
BALTIMORE -- When he accepted the job as the 16th manager in the history of the Baltimore Orioles, Sam Perlozzo was determined to rescue the franchise from a steady wave of losing seasons.
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Perlozzo had been with the team for a decade before signing a three-year contract in October 2005.
"I'd been in the organization a long time, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into," Perlozzo said Tuesday. "I felt I could make a difference. I truly believed I was the guy that could do it."
Instead, Perlozzo became the latest Orioles manager to be dismissed without achieving so much as one winning season. After the Orioles went 70-92 last year -- Baltimore's ninth consecutive losing season -- Perlozzo was fired Monday with the Orioles in last place in the AL East.
Perlozzo knew his job was in jeopardy after Baltimore lost 13 of 15, including eight straight that ended a 1-8 homestand. He hoped to be given the chance to right the team during the West Coast swing that started Tuesday, but his fate was sealed late Sunday night during a meeting between owner Peter Angelos and team executives Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette.
Upon being instructed to meet with Flanagan and Duquette on Monday morning, Perlozzo knew he was being relieved of the job he coveted since ending his playing career in 1981.
"My general thought process was we couldn't continue to lose games, no matter whose fault it was," Perlozzo said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I've been around the game a long time, and I know how these things work."
The 56-year-old Perlozzo joined Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove and Lee Mazzilli as managers who failed to produce a winning season in Baltimore since Davey Johnson took the Orioles to the playoffs in 1996 and 1997.
Perlozzo finished with a 122-164 record, including 29-40 this season.
This year was a struggle from Opening Day, when the Orioles were forced to place starting catcher Ramon Hernandez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle. The starting rotation eventually lost Jaret Wright and Adam Loewen; the bullpen struggled on a nightly basis after April; and the offense carried a .260 batting average and ranked last in the AL in home runs on the day Perlozzo was fired.
"We never did hit from the get-go," Perlozzo lamented.
When a team struggles, the manager usually takes the brunt of the blame. Perlozzo was no Earl Weaver -- arguably the finest manager in the history of the franchise -- but he didn't have a lot to work with, either.
"I'm sure I wasn't perfect," he said, "but I can't remember one time going home at night and thinking, 'Man, I blew that game."'
Perlozzo can't remember the last time he had some free time over the summer. Although he still has 1½ years left on his contract and will be paid whether he works or not, it's likely he will accept Angelos' offer of working in the organization in a different capacity.
"I don't see me taking a year-and-a-half off," Perlozzo said. "I'm going to keep my eye on next year; see how the team does without me. When things settle down a bit, I might call Peter and ask him what he's got for me."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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