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08/16/08 7:28 PM ET

Trembley a great admirer of Leyland

Tigers skipper played mentor to Orioles manager in 1980s

DETROIT -- To Orioles manager Dave Trembley, this weekend's opposing manager isn't Jim Leyland. It's Mr. Jim Leyland.

Trembley pointed to the Tigers' skipper as the person he emulates more than any other in this profession. The two skippers go back 21 years to when Leyland managed the Pirates and Trembley was at the helm of Pittsburgh's Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg, Pa.

One of Trembley's favorite Leyland stories concerns a simple phone call from 1987. It was the end of May, Harrisburg had lost 11 games in a row and Leyland reached out to Trembley out of the blue.

"He called me and said, 'Hey, listen. Are they playing hard?' I said, 'Yeah,'" Trembley said. "He said, 'Are the fundamentals being done right?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Don't worry about it; you'll be OK.'"

Leyland, a seasoned Minor League manager in the 1970s, apparently provided the perfect pick-me-up. Trembley's formerly slumping squad went 52-28 after Leyland's phone call, winning the Eastern League championship. Trembley earned league Manager of the Year honors and Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year, too.

"We didn't go 52-28 because Jim Leyland called me, but he was a big league manager and he took the time to recognize and understand what it's like for somebody that is down in the trenches, because he had been there," Trembley said. "He's a tremendous baseball guy."

You want to know the impression that conversation left on Trembley? He remembers which hotel he was staying at when the call came -- a Red Roof Inn.

Trembley, in his first full season as Leyland's big league peer, continues to heed his mentor's word, especially when it comes to communicating with his players.

"He didn't teach me about how to bunt or whatever; he taught me about managing people," Trembley said. "I think that's why he's the best. [He] and [Dodgers manager Joe] Torre are the best, there's no question in my mind, because they know how to manage people. That's what I learned from Jim Leyland."

Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.