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Perlozzo: 'I truly believed I was the guy that could do it'

6/19/2007 - Baltimore Orioles

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.

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."