Fresh off a much-needed three-day respite from his duties as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Lee Mazzilli shrugged off recent speculation about his job status and pronounced himself "positive and opimtistic" about the second half of the season.
"Nobody likes to hear that. Nobody does," Mazzilli said when asked about published reports that owner Peter Angelos may be contemplating a change if the Orioles do not turn around their season. But "I believe in the organziation. I believe in . . . what we're trying to do here. I know I did everything I could do every day. I can't wait to get to the ballpark every day and play the game."
Mazzilli said he spent much of the all-star break thinking about the team and how to "tweak things." He denied he feels added pressure because of the perception that his job is in jeopardy.
"There's pressure every day you come to the ballpark," said Mazzilli, who spent the previous four seasons on Joe Torre's New York Yankees coaching staff. "I'm used to it. And that's okay, because you want the pressure to win."
The Orioles opened the second half Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, following a 37-48 first half in which they fell into last place, 171/2 games out of first.
Repeating a theme he sounded in the final days of the first half, Mazzilli placed the blame for the team's poor performance on injuries to key hitters such as Melvin Mora, Jay Gibbons, B.J. Surhoff and David Segui, and to starting pitchers Kurt Ainsworth and Eric DuBose.
"If you've been watching this team over the course of the first half," Mazzilli said, "we got banged up pretty good."
Mora (hamstring) worked out with the team Thursday and could be activated from the disabled list on Sunday.