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With managing in background, Trembley eager to move ahead

TIMES SPORTS EDITOR
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If you think that the major league baseball season ends when the World Series champion is crowned, Dave Trembley will dispel you of that notion with his itinerary.


A week before Thanksgiving, he was in conference calls all day so his new team, the Atlanta Braves, could set their 40-man roster to meet the MLB deadline. Next month, he will attend the annual winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. After Christmas, he will start creating 45-day schedules for spring training camp. In mid-February, he will head to the Braves' spring training site in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., as the team starts its pursuit of the 2011 title.


So begins Trembley's latest job in major league baseball. As of this month, he is the Braves' minor league field coordinator. But he also will be supervising the instruction of players and coaches throughout the organization.


"I'm going to enjoy it," said Trembley, the former Carthage high school baseball player who was hired by the Braves two weeks ago. "It's fun teaching and you'll be on the baseball field all day."


The job is Trembley's first since he was fired as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles on June 3. He managed Baltimore for three years, compiling a 187-283 record in his first shot at a major league managing job after 21 years as one of baseball's most respected minor league bosses. Prior to his hiring by the Orioles to replace Sam Perlozzo in June 2007, Trembley worked as a field coordinator for Baltimore and Perlozzo during spring training of that year.


Since Trembley's managing career began in 1985, there has been only one other time in which he was not leading the team from the dugout with the word "manager" in front of his name. That was in 1990, when he ran the Pirates' minor league complex in Bradenton, Fla.


"I love to manage," Trembley said. "Obviously this is only the (third) time in 26 years that I haven't managed. It had to be a position where I felt like I could be involved, have my opinion asked, and have an opportunity to give my input."


Trembley began to sense that would be the case when he received a call early this month from his friend, Fredi Gonzalez, who had just been named the manager of the Braves, replacing future Hall of Famer Bobby Cox. Gonzalez told him the Braves wanted to interview him for the field coordinator position. So Trembley traveled to Atlanta, met with team president John Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren, and returned to his Florida home that night.


The next day they offered Trembley the job.


Gonzalez, whom Trembley remembers managing against when Gonzalez played and then when he managed, had an influence on Trembley receiving the position. Trembley said he had publicly backed Gonzalez when it became known that Cox would give up the Braves job at the end of last season. He added that Gonzalez was one of the baseball people who called him to offer support after he was fired by the Orioles.


"We have the same feeling," Trembley said. "Respect for the game, fundamentals."


Even though Trembley, 59, had not worked since the Orioles let him go five months prior, he said he remained certain that he would return to professional baseball. He said he didn't hunt for a job during that time or even pick up a phone to promote himself. Instead, he relied on his body of work speaking for itself.


"I felt I had something to contribute," Trembley said of his summer away from the game. "I knew what kind of person I was, what I bring to the table. But I wasn't going to take a job just to take a job."


As baseball entered its postseason, the Braves were eliminated by the eventual World Series champion Giants, and players packed up and went home for the winter. Trembley waited as teams began offseason maneuvers.


"I felt confident I was going to do something," he said. "I didn't know what, but I knew it would be something."


Trembley's confidence likely wasn't as high five months earlier when Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail informed him that he was fired. Trembley had just returned from a road series at Yankee Stadium. On the team flight back, he watched the television monitor in front of him. It was tuned to ESPN, and the news crawled across the bottom of the screen — he would be dismissed.


Trembley had heard the rumors for weeks. The day before, he had been talking to Yankees announcer Ken Singleton, who was wishing him well as the Orioles ended their road trip. Pretty soon, Trembley saw reporters walking up to him, and they asked if they he had heard any news of his job status.


Looking back, Trembley realizes that the news was already out, even if hadn't been told yet.


"What they were actually doing was saying goodbye," Trembley said. "They knew."


Of that period, Trembley says, "it makes you a little bit smarter." But he has no complaint with the Orioles or his time as a major league manager. In fact he says just the opposite.


"That experience is really hard for me to explain to everybody because it was so wonderful," Trembley said of managing in a big league uniform.


He remains eager to get back into the big league game, instructing and teaching, for one of the most successful teams of the last 20 years. The Braves feature a young, talented team that's back in the playoffs. But Atlanta isn't willing to rest on its recent achievements or its tradition of success.


The Braves brought in not just any replacement for Cox at manager, but one of the more successful, and respected managers in Gonzalez, a former manager of the year with the Florida Marlins. Along with Trembley, the Braves added Lee Elia as a special assistant. Elia is another lifetime baseball man who worked as a manager for the Cubs and Phillies.


"The Braves are proactive," said Trembley, comparing his new job with the one that former Twins manager Tom Kelly does for Minnesota under current manager Ron Gardenhire. "They wanted to bring in someone with managing experience, to fine-tune guys, and I think they wanted a fresh set of eyes, someone who doesn't know everybody."


For Trembley, the fun lies in being on the field, teaching the game. That will make up a good portion of his new job, whether it's in spring training or in a Double or Triple A ballpark, or in instructional league.


During his summer away, he enjoyed his time with his wife and son in their Daytona Beach, Fla., home. He read "about 30 books." In October, he visited his mother in Watertown, worked out at the Duffy Fairgrounds, had dinner with family at the Partridge Berry Inn. He refused to mope about his absence from the big leagues.


But now that he's gotten the call again, he's ready.


"I've been very fortunate," he said.

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