ANAHEIM, Calif. - A miserable week for Lee Mazzilli began with Rafael Palmeiro’s suspension and ended with the manager’s dismissal.
The Baltimore Orioles fired Mazzilli on Thursday in the middle of a massive slide, just three days after Palmeiro became the biggest major league star to be caught using steroids.
“It’s not the kind of week that you want to have very often, that’s for sure,” Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts said.
Sam Perlozzo was appointed interim manager for the rest of the season — and he won his first game. The Orioles beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-1 Thursday to end an eight-game losing streak and win for only the second time in 16 tries.
Sammy Sosa’s first home run in a week came too late to save Mazzilli’s job.
“I was surprised when I walked in here today and found out,” Sosa said. “Mr. Mazzilli was great to me. I feel sad about what happened to him, and I wish him the best. But nobody’s quitting in here. We’re going to be all right.”
The change was announced just two hours before the game. General manager Jim Beattie said he told Mazzilli of the club’s decision at the team hotel Thursday morning.
“It’s not something that’s been brewing for a long time,” Beattie said. “The decision really was made in the last day that we should make the change. I talked to Maz this morning about making the change. Maz was very professional about it. He understood, and he thanked me. But it was one of those short meetings you have where there weren’t a lot of questions you have to ask or answer.”
Perlozzo held a closed-door meeting with the players before the first pitch.
“It was quiet in there,” he said. “I probably spoke a little longer than I’d planned to. I thought that we’d point the finger at each other today — all of us. We’re all part of what happened here. After today, they can point them at me, if they want.”
“It’s a bittersweet day,” said Perlozzo, reiterating one of his pregame remarks. “I never wanted to have a job at the expense of somebody else, especially a good friend like Lee Mazzilli. I’m very thankful that Maz kept me here for two years. He could have fired me, but he didn’t.”
Baltimore got off to a solid start and on April 23 gained sole possession of first place, ahead of the defending champion Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
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