BALTIMORE -- Desperate to rejuvenate a team drained by losing, the Baltimore Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on Friday.
The Orioles (15-39) owned the worst record in the major leagues entering Friday night's game against Boston. They had lost eight straight and were coming off an 0-6 road trip in which they were outscored 34-8 in Toronto and at Yankee Stadium.
Third base coach Juan Samuel was appointed interim manager by president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
"What you're hoping to accomplish when you make a change like this is, you're hoping to ignite a spark, give everybody a clean slate," MacPhail said. "Sort of get out of that drumbeat of what's going to happen day-to-day."
After getting off to a 2-16 start -- second-worst in franchise history -- the Orioles appear to be staggering toward a 13th consecutive losing season.
"The results on the field were not what any of us would have hoped for, and I understand that the organization felt the time was right to move in a different direction," Trembley said in a statement. "While I am disappointed at the outcome, I feel it was a privilege to wear the Orioles uniform each day."
Trembley seemed to know what was coming.
"When Dave came up to see me, I hadn't even gotten a sentence out, he just waved me off and said: 'Don't worry about it,"' MacPhail said. "He was fine. He was gracious. I didn't even need to go into any kind of speech."
Trembley is the second major-league manager to be fired this season. Trey Hillman was dismissed by Kansas City on May 13.
|Dave Trembley passes the torch to Juan Samuel in the interim. (US Presswire)|
Starting pitcher Kevin Millwood said, "It [stinks] that we as a team didn't play well and he takes the fall for it. In some ways, we have to feel somewhat responsible."
The 58-year-old Trembley had a 187-283 record with the Orioles. As caretaker to MacPhail's massive rebuilding project, Trembley never had much talent at his disposal, and his job was made tougher this season by an expansive injury list, a lackluster offense and an ineffective bullpen.
"This is a negative reflection on the entire baseball operations department, starting with me," MacPhail said. "Nobody believes the reason we have the record we have is somehow Dave Trembley's fault or that making this change is going to magically solve all the issues and problems we have.
"But we did reach a point where we thought this was the appropriate thing to do."
Samuel, 49, was a three-time All-Star during a 16-year playing career that ran through 1998. His only managerial experience came in 2006, when he led Binghamton of the Eastern League to a 70-69 record and a second-place finish.
Before that, Samuel served seven years with the Detroit Tigers as a coach. This is his fourth season with the Orioles.
Samuel becomes Baltimore's sixth manager since 1997, the last time the team had a winning season. He follows Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo and Trembley.
"It's an opportunity that I'm not taking lightly," Samuel said. "We're going to turn the page. We're going to let these guys know, hey, the season starts today. The past is the past. What we do from now on is what we will be judged on."
MacPhail said he will "talk to other people" in the weeks ahead about taking over the job on a full-time basis.
"We need to find the right fit here," he said.
Gary Allenson, previously the manager of the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, was appointed interim third base coach.
Trembley became a major-league manager for the first time on June 18, 2007, taking over on an interim basis after Perlozzo was fired. Trembley became the seventh man in baseball history to manage in the majors without having played professionally.
In August 2007, the interim label was removed.
When MacPhail announced last October that the club would exercise the 2010 option on Trembley's contract, the stipulation was that the team must improve.
Unfortunately, the offseason acquisitions of closer Mike Gonzalez and first baseman Garrett Atkins did not pan out, and standout players in 2009 such as Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen failed to perform up to expectations.
"Maybe most disappointing of all to me, and most distressing, is the fact that we've had some of our young players go backward from where they were the year before," MacPhail said.
Through Thursday, the Orioles were 6-25 on the road, 6-21 within the division and 21 games behind first-place Tampa Bay.
Baltimore ranks near the bottom in virtually every AL offensive category, including batting average, runs and stolen bases. The pitching staff has allowed more home runs than any team in the majors except for Arizona and ranked 12th in the AL with a 4.70 ERA.
The makeshift bullpen had more blown saves (10) than saves (9). Alfredo Simon, who followed Gonzalez and Johnson in the closer's role, had six saves in seven tries before being placed on the disabled list on May 25 with a strained left hamstring.
"Alfredo Simon gets hurt and then you get to the tough part of your schedule, and things start to cascading down again," MacPhail said. "Which led to, in some respects, the announcement we're making today."