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Trembley teaching O's hard, traditional lessons

March 31, 2009|By DAVID GINSBURG

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Dave Trembley sat through 93 losses last year, and his second full season as manager of the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles may not be much different.

No one could blame Trembley for wondering if bouncing around for 20 years in the minors before getting the job was worth it. Yet, as he drove from his home in Daytona Beach to Fort Lauderdale last month for the start of spring training, Trembley recalled thinking:

"How did this happen? How lucky am I? Whatever happens to me, that will never change."

"He's put in his time in the minor leagues and he remembers where he comes from," Orioles closer George Sherrill said. "He's going to give you his best and he expects your best. And I like that."

Trembley enjoys working with the Orioles young players, maybe because he is a teacher at heart.

He has a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in education. Trembley took a job in 1977 as teacher and baseball coach at Daniel Murphy High School in Los Angeles. In 1980, he served as baseball coach at a junior college in L.A. and in 1984 joined the professional ranks as a scout for the Chicago Cubs.

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He became a minor league manager in 1986, and to expand his experience also managed winter league ball in Mexico and Venezuela. After 20 years toiling as a minor league manager, he was promoted to bullpen coach for the Orioles before the 2007 season.

On June 18, 2007, upon being named the replacement for Sam Perlozzo, Trembley became the seventh manager in major league history without playing professionally in the minors or big leagues.

He promptly restored fielding practice before games and foisted his three-word mantra upon everyone in the clubhouse: Respect The Game.

But after a rash of injuries tore apart the pitching staff last season, Baltimore staggered to its 11th consecutive losing season. The Orioles again will have difficulty matching the talent level of the other teams in the AL East, but Trembley intends on fielding a team that is mentally sharp and fundamentally sound.

"I don't think we're at a particular point in time where you can just roll balls and bats out and expect that you're going to be successful," he said.

The Orioles have spent extra time on the back fields this spring working on drills such as rundowns, shifting on bunts and situational throws. Those sessions will be repeated periodically throughout the season.

"He's all about hard work, respect and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played," hitting coach Terry Crowley said. "He never lets you forget for one minute how appreciative of what he has and how hard he had to work to get here. He respects the heck out of the players, and he demands respect in return."

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail intends to end Baltimore's run of futility by tapping into a farm system loaded with young talent. Because Trembley has spent much of his career developing up-and-coming players, MacPhail says he is the right man for the Orioles.

"I think managing is a custom fit. Guys like Joe Torre and Terry Francona have won world championships and struggled in other places," MacPhail said. "Dave is an ideal fit for what it is this organization is trying to accomplish. That doesn't mean he couldn't succeed in other places; it's just that for our circumstances it's very good."

Trembley says his approach to the game -- and life itself -- remains the same.

"We still drive the same car at home. We still have the same friends. We still go to the same church. I haven't upgraded my wardrobe," Trembley said. "When you start taking things for granted, when you think somebody owes you something, when you get out of your lane, when you think you're above it, you're wrong. I'm the same guy who started teaching school in inner city L.A."

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