BALTIMORE – Buck Showalter was hired to manage the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, his latest rebuilding project in a major league career full of them.
Showalter's first game will be Tuesday night at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.
Baltimore had the worst record in the majors at 31-70 going into Thursday night against Kansas City and is headed toward its 13th straight losing season. The Orioles fired manager Dave Trembley on June 4 and replaced him on an interim basis with Juan Samuel.
"Buck Showalter's proven track record makes him the right choice for manager of the Orioles," president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said in a statement. "We believe Buck's extensive experience and expertise will be a major benefit to us as we look towards a more successful future."
Samuel will return to his job as the team's third-base coach. Baltimore went 16-31 with him in charge.
"It's been a good experience," Samuel said. "These guys played for me hard. I know the record doesn't reflect that, but I thank the guys for that."
The rest of the Orioles' coaching staff will stay intact. Gary Allenson, the interim third-base coach, will resume his spot as manager at Triple-A Norfolk.
Showalter's move was first reported by ESPN, where he worked as an analyst. His last television appearance was on Monday.
"My job with ESPN allowed me to follow this organization closely over the last several years, and although the current record may seem to indicate otherwise, I see enormous potential with this club," Showalter said in a statement released by the team. "I look forward to the challenge of competing in the American League East. Baltimore is a tremendous baseball town with passion and pride in its club, and my family and I look forward to making it our new home."
Showalter is a two-time AL Manager of the Year, winning the award in 1994 with the New York Yankees and 2004 with Texas. Both times, he had taken over teams and guided their turnarounds.
The 54-year-old Showalter also was the first manager in the history of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was hired well in advance and given time to put the Diamondbacks in position to contend once they started playing in 1998. He was fired after the 2000 season, and Arizona won the World Series the next year.
A former minor league player who never made it to the majors, Showalter is known for a strong will and an obsession with fundamentals, details and preparation — he would often sleep in his office when there was a day game following a night game.
"The biggest thing about Buck is that he's the most prepared guy I've ever been around and he doesn't leave a lot of things to chance. I like Buck," said pitcher Kevin Millwood, who played for Showalter in Texas.
Showalter also does not tolerate players acting like stars, even if they are top talents. He feuded with Alex Rodriguez in 2003, when they were together in Texas.
Showalter's last year as a manager was 2006 with the Rangers. His overall record is 882-833 in 11 years.
In Baltimore, Showalter faces an especially tough task.
The once-proud franchise has fallen on hard times since reaching the playoffs in 1997, usually finishing far behind rich AL powers Boston and the Yankees. No one pitcher currently on the Orioles has more than four victories this year and no hitter is at .300.
"It doesn't matter who the manager is, the players are going to have to play better," catcher Matt Wieters said. "We're all going to have to pull together and play better as a team. Maybe this will give us a little bit of a more continuous face at the head."
The Orioles interviewed former major league managers Bobby Valentine and Eric Wedge, ex-Baltimore catcher Rick Dempsey and Samuel before settling on Showalter.
MacPhail wanted to have a manager in place this season, to give the newcomer a better chance to evaluate the talent in Baltimore. MacPhail joined the franchise in June 2007.
Trembley was one of four managers to be fired this year. Kansas City's Trey Hillman, Arizona's A.J. Hinch and Florida's Fredi Gonzalez also were dismissed.