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08/04/05 8:46 PM ET
'Nowhere to look but at ourselves'
Orioles players blame themselves, not Mazzilli, for struggles
By Mark Thoma / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- The Orioles lost their eighth straight game Wednesday, falling to 9-28 since June 21, but they were nonetheless surprised by the dismissal of manager Lee Mazzilli on Thursday morning. "Last time I checked, he didn't have to get a hit with a man on base or get an out with the bases loaded," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "Nobody handles losing well, but I thought he handled it pretty well." The managerial change was so unexpected in part because of the clandestine way it occurred. Mazzilli and the Orioles went back to the team hotel after Wednesday's game unaware of the skipper's impending dismissal. "We just came here this morning and it just happened," outfielder Luis Matos said. "We didn't get any reaction [from Mazzilli] because he wasn't here." Added first baseman B.J. Surhoff: "I think any time there's a change, it's a surprise. I've never been through a midseason change." It was more than just a midseason change, though -- it was a change right in the middle of game preparation. The Orioles held an 11 a.m. PT meeting, during which interim manager Sam Perlozzo addressed the team, and then proceeded to take batting practice on the field prior to Thursday's matinee against the Angels. Despite the hectic atmosphere, the Orioles calmly took responsibility for what befell Mazzilli. "What it comes down to is, we didn't play well," Surhoff said. "When you get into the freefall that we got into, there's nowhere to look but at ourselves." Roberts was particularly adamant that Mazzilli wasn't the cause for the Orioles' skid -- and that his dismissal wouldn't be the catalyst for a turnaround. "What are you gonna do, say, 'I don't like Maz, I'm not gonna get a hit?' " he said. "I grew up the son of a coach, and I saw my dad get fired and I knew it wasn't his fault. "If your name is in the lineup, you go out there and do your job. It doesn't really matter who's in that office. They get a lot more credit than they deserve and they get a lot more blame than they deserve."
Baltimore's professional attitude shined through Thursday afternoon, when Perlozzo and the Orioles compiled a clean 4-1 win over the Angels, averting a sweep and snapping their losing streak.
"I didn't feel good about [Mazzilli's dismissal], but I've gotta remain focused," winning pitcher Rodrigo Lopez said. "Bottom line, we're professional players and we've gotta concentrate on our job, no matter what happens in the clubhouse or the front office."
While many of the Orioles are sad to see Mazzilli go, they're glad that their new skipper is someone they know and respect, rather than an outsider.
"It's tough because you get used to one guy, but I'm just glad they chose one of our coaches," third baseman Melvin Mora said. "Sammy Perlozzo knows every guy in this room and knows what to do to win."
Lee Mazzilli relieved of duties
Mark Thoma is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.