Trembley to return as Orioles manager
Club picks up option for 2009, adds 2010 option year
BALTIMORE -- There were no outward displays of emotion and no inward sighs of relief. Baltimore manager Dave Trembley helped announce the news of his contract extension calmly and simply Friday, when he said that he had expected it all along. Trembley, who has been on the job since last June, was extended through 2009 with a team option for 2010.
"I always knew I was coming back," he said. "I never doubted one bit that I was going to come back, because I'm dealing with people who it's important for them to [value] hard work, being fair, being honest -- all those things we've always thought were important. ... It's important to understand that it's not about me. It's never been about me. It's been about the Baltimore Orioles and it's been about other matters that were significantly more important that needed to get done."
Trembley, who's one of seven managers that have never played professionally, also said that he was given the opportunity to retain his entire coaching staff, an overture he made before entering his press conference. The empassioned manager stared straight ahead during most of the media session, not blinking and not beaming.
But when he spoke, the gratitude and sense of accomplishment hung high in the air, palpable and obvious. Trembley managed in the Minor Leagues for 20 years before he got his big league break, and those years loomed large on Friday.
"This is what I wanted to do my whole life. And I'm doing it," he said. "What it's done for me, what it's done for my family, but more important is what I hope it does for a lot of people that have kind of been in my shoes for a long time.
"To me, that's really the story: What it does for people that have done what I've done for a long time. It gives them some incentive and recognizes that hard work, doing things right and treating people right is really important. And when you have people that not only say it but back you up on that, you have to feel pretty fortunate that those are the people you're surrounding yourself with."
As long as his apprenticeship may have been, Trembley's big league career has been a whirlwind. He first broke in with the Orioles as bullpen coach and field coordinator under Sam Perlozzo in 2007, and he morphed into the bench coach shortly thereafter. Finally, when Perlozzo was dismissed in June, Trembley was named the team's interim manager.
Trembley, whose first press conference was held in a utility closet at San Diego's PETCO Park, immediately began working the team over in an unassuming manner. He stressed a return to fundamental play and a disciplined approach to preparation that included regular infield practice, drilling his team the way he had always done at lower levels.
And the Orioles responded at first, playing over their heads and reflecting their new manager's sense of pride and professionalism. Baltimore executive Andy MacPhail elected to extend Trembley's contract in August of last season, and he did so right before a historic 30-3 loss that fed right into an eight-game slide and a dismal September.
Games managed by skippers without playing experience
|If Dave Trembley manages through the end of the 2009 season, he will move into third place in games among Major League managers without any professional playing experience. The up-to-date list:|
Ed Barrow (1903-04 Tigers, 1918-20 Red Sox): 639
|John Boles (1996, 1999-2001 Marlins): 446|
|Carlos Tosca (2002-04 Blue Jays): 382|
|Hugo Bezdek (1917-19 Pirates): 356|
|Dave Trembley (2007-08 Orioles): 232|
|Judge Fuchs (1929 Braves): 154|
|Ted Turner (1977 Braves): 1|
"There are certain parts of life that you'd just as soon forget," said Trembley. "And there are certain points of your life that you'd like to remember forever. Certain parts of that day I'll remember forever, and certain parts of that day I'd just as soon forget."
This time, said MacPhail, he wanted to wait before he made his decision. And he pounced with Trembley riding a six-game losing streak and a 103-129 record as manager, but he said the timing was right for a number of reasons.
"I've gotten through expanding the rosters," said MacPhail, the team's president of baseball operations. "I expected -- particularly when we lost the back end of the bullpen and had other injury issues with our pitchers and were coming up against a very tough part of the schedule -- that we were going to have a tough stretch, and I didn't want to replicate what happened last year. Last year, the moment we extended him, boom, this thing dropped. Look, he was going to get extended one way or another, and I would just as soon do it in a demonstration of support than do it and have everyone say, 'Every time we extend the guy, the team goes into a funk.' I made a calculation that unfortunately proved to be accurate."
A moment later, MacPhail went into greater detail about why Trembley is the right man for the job. MacPhail, who knows Trembley from their shared tenure in the Cubs organization, respects his manager's acumen and attention to detail.
"There is a lot required of a Major League manager, whether it be the tactical aspects of the game, communication with the players, communicating with the fans through the media, dealing with the front office," he said. "I think David has excelled in those areas, particularly the one that's most important to me and the fans -- that the players play hard, play with energy and effort and enthusiasm. I think we all feel like ... before we started to have injury issues which demonstrated our lack of depth, particularly in this division, we feel like we got our money's worth in that area. That's important to me."
The move was met with equal support in the clubhouse, where Trembley's players spoke up in earnest approval.
"I didn't know until now," said Melvin Mora, the longest-serving member of the team."I feel like when you're going to have a baby, and they tell you you're going to have five kids. I don't know to be happy or what. It's good for him. I think it's pretty good, because we're working with young players and he's got experience with young guys. I guess he's the perfect guy."
"I love Dave ... but it's not the manager that's going to take us to the next level," said veteran Brian Roberts. "We have to do it on the field. A manager can only do so much. I am glad he will be back, because I think he has done a great job. But I think we all know in order to get to the next level, we have to do some things as a team and an organization.
"Maybe that's the first step. I think guys love Dave. Everybody enjoys playing for him, and maybe that's a good first step."
Even Trembley acknowledges that it's just a step, and he said he looks forward to the rest of the journey. The Orioles have talked a lot about changing the culture in the clubhouse, and Trembley said the results are plain to see.
"We want Major League players and we want Major League people," he said. "If you don't have the cooperation of your players and your coaches, you don't make any progress at all. I've been fortunate in that I've had cooperation at both ends. The players have been extremely receptive to what we tried to do here, and I've had a very good coaching staff. Timing is everything. I came along at a time where what we asked players to do, they did. I still think there's room for improvement."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.