Edward Bennett Williams, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, said yesterday that he is "very disappointed" with the way the team has been playing recently and has scheduled a review this week that could result in personnel changes.
Williams did not specify whether such changes would involve players or Manager Joe Altobelli, who has come under heavy criticism in Baltimore recently.
"I'm not going to sit by idly and let things go on like this," Williams said. "I want to do something that will ensure a gung-ho effort. I am very disappointed in our start. I have a meeting, a review of the season to date, scheduled with (General Manager) Hank Peters this week.
"We had a rotten May, rotten. And we're not pulling out of it. We'll see what changes, if any, we can make. We'd like to make a couple of moves (before the June 15 trading deadline)."
"Is he talking about me or the team?" Altobelli asked at Tiger Stadium before last night's game against Detroit. "I talked to him on Friday night. Everything was okay. He didn't seem one way or the other (happy or upset)."
On May 11, the Orioles were in first place in the American League East with an 18-9 record, one game ahead of Toronto. The three other times the Orioles started that well, they went on to win world championships (1966, 1970 and 1983).
But since May 11, the Orioles are 11-16 and have dropped 6 1/2 games behind Toronto. They lost three straight to visiting Boston over the weekend, including a 12-0 loss Sunday before more than 36,000. The Orioles are 29-25 after losing last night in Detroit, falling behind the Tigers into third place.
All season, there has been speculation that Altobelli, in the case of a long slump, might be replaced by coaches Frank Robinson, Ray Miller or Cal Ripken Sr., or by former manager Earl Weaver, now in retirement in Florida.
Peters declined to get into specifics, but said he and Williams felt there has been "limited production out of certain positions . . . a lot has to come from people we already have. We're not going to make wholesale moves in June.
". . . The thing that's plagued us most is inconsistency. And we had a complete display of inconsistency over the weekend. Toronto won 12 of 14, and to do that you have to have hitters hitting, pitchers pitching and fielders fielding. We haven't had them simultaneously."
Most of the Orioles' pitchers have been inconsistent. And even with Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jim Dwyer and Larry Sheets all batting around .300, the team has been stranding runners regularly.
The Orioles have been looking for an everyday second baseman almost the entire season, and reportedly are interested in finding out more about the San Diego Padres' Alan Wiggins.
Wiggins was cleared yesterday by baseball's Joint Review Council to play this season after undergoing drug rehabilitation but is unwanted by his team.
Altobelli, told that Padres General Manager Jack McKeon had said Wiggins would fit the Orioles' needs, replied, "He's right."