BALTIMORE -- Leo Mazzone was fired as pitching coach of the
Baltimore Orioles on Friday, less than a month after completing his
second season with a struggling staff.
Mazzone worked wonders with the Atlanta Braves pitching staff
from June 1990 through the end of the 2005 season but could not
duplicate that success with the Orioles. Baltimore ranked 29th
among 30 teams with a 5.17 ERA and yielded more walks (696) than
any major league club.
"I spoke with Leo today and told him I appreciated his efforts
here," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Moving forward, I
felt that we would be better served with someone else working with
our young staff and that it was in his best interests and our best
interests to give him an opportunity to look elsewhere now."
Mazzone, who turns 59 on Tuesday, had one year left on the
three-year contract he signed before the 2006 season. He was lured
from Atlanta by then-Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, a longtime
friend who was fired on June 18.
"This is just the business of baseball," Mazzone said. "I had
a strong inclination that 2007 was going to be my last year in
Baltimore when Sam Perlozzo was released and Dave Trembley was
"While disappointed at not having the opportunity to play a
role in the reconstruction of the Oriole pitcher development
program, I understand and wish the team great success. I want to
thank the Orioles organization for the opportunity to coach some
great young talent. And I especially want to thank the fans in
Baltimore who always made me feel at home."
Mazzone has no intention of being idle during the 2008 season.
"He's not going to sit out a year. He has no desire to do
that," said Brad Steele, Mazzone's business manager. "He will
have plenty of time to do that after he retires."
The Braves were a fixture in the playoffs when Mazzone was
there. In contrast, the Orioles lost more than 90 games in each of
his two seasons with the club.
"I think Leo still has a lot of fire in his belly. He wants to
be part of a winning organization," Steele said. "But he's not
opposed to doing what he did in Atlanta, taking a team from last to
first. Either way, we suspect there will be a lot of interest in
Mazzone was proud of the work he did with starters Erik Bedard,
Adam Loewen and Jeremy Guthrie, who have developed into solid major
league pitchers. But he never could get through to Daniel Cabrera
and some of the other pitchers on the youthful staff.
He hoped to finish what he started next year.
"I want to go until I'm 62, and I hope the rest of the way it's
in a Baltimore uniform," he said during the final week of the
regular season. "I mean this place, it's my home state and this is
one of the greatest sports towns in the United States. All we have
to do is start winning, and you'll never be able to get a ticket.
These fans deserve that. They treat everybody very graciously.
"I expected to hear a few nasty things going out to the mound
every once in a while. I don't hear them. They keep telling me to
keep the faith, you're doing a good job. It's a wonderful place to
be. Things have to be done to put this thing together."
Under Mazzone, the Braves led the NL in ERA in 12 of his final
14 seasons. He helped develop six Cy Young award winners and had 10
different pitchers named to the All-Star team, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.