Samuel brings no-nonsense approach to job
O's interim skipper won't tolerate a lack of effort from players
BALTIMORE -- At approximately 3 p.m. ET on Friday, Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel addressed his team for the first time, with a simple message: The season starts today.
Samuel, who was promoted in the wake of Dave Trembley's dismissal, said he talked with the team about his good friend and, more importantly, what he expects from the O's going forward.
"Dave would be proud if we turned this team around," Samuel said of a squad that entered Friday a Major League-worst 15-39.
"Basically, [the speech was] just letting the team know that, 'Hey, it's up to us to change this thing around. We might have to prepare a little bit better, we might have to tweak some things here and there, including myself,'" Samuel said.
"I expect those guys to come out there with some energy; I expect those guys to compete. That's the No. 1 thing for me. If you compete, regardless of the outcome, you go home feeling good. And that's all I am asking these guys. Let's go out there and compete."
A self-described "aggressive" manager with a no-nonsense approach, Samuel was the best internal option for the Orioles, and will be considered among the candidates president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail will look at as a long-term replacement.
"In my view, Juan clearly was somebody, from being around the club like I have been, he has a different relationship with the players," MacPhail said. "He holds their respect, he does discipline them. But it doesn't seem to be at the expense of their ability to communicate."
Samuel carries a cache Trembley did not, given his vast experience in professional baseball as a player and now a manager. The 49-year-old was a three-time National League All-Star whose Major League playing career spanned 16 years. Since retiring as a player, he has spent every season since '99 in some coaching capacity, including seven as a first-base and third-base coach with the Tigers.
"[Players] appreciate or they respect you more if you tell them the truth to their face," Samuel said. "And I think some of the guys who are good managers they are good communicators and they tell the truth."
Samuel said he will hold his players accountable for things like lack of hustle out of the batter's box and expects to see an "enthusiastic" Orioles squad take the field for Friday's series opener against the Red Sox.
"If I see some of those guys not giving 100 percent, I am sure you will have to approach them," Samuel said. "I have no problem whatsoever approaching those guys."
Beyond different disciplinary styles, Samuel said he would like to tweak with the O's lineup. The biggest change in Friday's batting order was Miguel Tejada in the No. 2 spot, and Samuel said he will continue to tweak things and explore his options until he finds the right fit for his baseball style.
"I think we all knew as a player, he was a hard-nosed player and he always played the game right, and I am sure he is going to expect nothing but the same out of us," infielder Ty Wigginton said. "And hopefully we can come through and get things rolling."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.