The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post reported today that new Orioles' Manager Sam Perlozzo might have an interest in Braves' Pitching Coach Leo Mazzone. This follows additional rumors out of New York City, printed in several newspapers, that the New York Yankees could also make a run at the Braves' longtime dugout rocker.
Perlozzo had the "interim" label dropped from his title on Wednesday by new Orioles' GM Mike Flanagan. Perlozzo and Mazzone are reportedly close friends, prompting the speculation that Mazzone might leave the Braves.
Ray Miller was the Orioles' Pitching Coach for most of the 2005 season, but it is unlikely he will return since he is battling health issues.
Mazzone was born in West Virginia, but lived in Maryland for many years before relocating to Atlanta in the offseason.
The Yankees are looking to replace Mel Stottlemyre, who resigned on Wednesday after ten seasons as Joe Tore's Pitching Coach. Since it has been long believed 2005 was Stottlemyre's last season in the Bronx, speculation has centered on Mazzone as a replacement for several months.
Mazzone has been in the Braves organization since 1979, when he became a minor league pitching instructor. He first became Atlanta's pitching coach in 1985, working alongside his mentor, Johnny Sain. He returned to the minor leagues in 1986, and then in 1990 when Bobby Cox came out of the front office to be the Braves' Manager, Mazzone replaced Bruce Dal Canton as the Braves' Pitching Coach.
If Mazzone were to leave, Dal Canton might be a candidate to replace him. The 63-year-old Dal Canton is still highly respected in the Braves' organization. He's been a minor league pitching coach since Mazzone replaced him, spending the last six seasons in Myrtle Beach.
Another candidate could be Guy Hansen, recently fired as the Kansas City Royals' Pitching Coach. Hansen spent six seasons as a Braves' minor league pitching coach before leaving for the Royals' job last year. He is close to General Manager John Schuerholz.
The Braves might also consider Mississippi Pitching Coach Kent Willis, who had a hand in developing many of the Braves' young pitchers, including Horacio Ramirez, Kyle Davies, Blaine Boyer, and Macay McBride.
Mazzone has stated in the past that he would remain with the Braves as long as Bobby Cox was the team's manager. However, some in the organization have wondered if this winter might give Mazzone the chance to take his knowledge to another organization.
If the Orioles or Yankees want to discuss their openings with Mazzone, they will have to seek permission from the Braves since Mazzone is still under contract. However, it is unclear of how long Mazzone's contract runs through.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yankees and Orioles interested in Leo?
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