For the long run: Orioles intend to keep Perlozzo

BALTIMORE -- Sam Perlozzo will return as manager of the Baltimore Orioles in 2007, vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette said Wednesday.

The Orioles are headed for a ninth straight losing season in Perlozzo's first full year as a major league manager, but the
organization has no intention of looking for a replacement.

"It's not an issue. It's not even anything that needs to be
addressed or talked about," Duquette said.

Despite that assertion, Perlozzo's future has been written about by local columnists and discussed at length by talk-show hosts. Before the Orioles faced Boston on Wednesday, Perlozzo defended his performance and said the organization would be foolish to fire him.

"I think it would be a big mistake. I came here to get this thing straight and I intend to stay here and get it done," he said.

Perlozzo was given a three-year contract during the offseason after serving as interim manager following the firing of Lee Mazzilli in August 2005. The Orioles were 11-7 on April 21, but never reached the .500 mark after falling to 14-15 on May 3. They have been in fourth place since April 29.

"I'm pretty confident in the job I've done this year, quite
honestly," Perlozzo said. "All of a sudden somebody wants to
question a couple of things that happened recently and forgotten
the other 100-whatever games we've played prior to this."

Perlozzo came under fire for staying with rookie James Hoey
while the New York Yankees scored six runs in the seventh inning of
a 9-6 victory Monday night. Perlozzo was also second-guessed for
permitting Rodrigo Lopez to pitch to hot-hitting Derek Jeter in the
eighth inning Saturday with a runner on third (Jeter singled in the
decisive run in New York's 3-2 victory).

In his defense, because of injuries to key players and trades that sent Javy Lopez and Jeff Conine packing without replacements, Perlozzo has been forced to work with a makeshift roster for much
of the season.

"It's been tough. He's had his hands tied many times, due to a
number of different factors," Duquette said. "Certainly, injuries
have played a part in it, too."

Those currently unavailable because of injury include Jay Gibbons, Corey Patterson, LaTroy Hawkins and Kris Benson.

"I just think if you're doing the homework and you know the roster, you might want to stick with one guy a little longer than bring somebody else in," Perlozzo said. "Quite honestly, I think I've done a pretty darn good job. When we were healthy and playing decent, I thought everything was going pretty good. I didn't hear anyone complain then."