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Mazzilli will call the shots in Baltimore

Lee Mazzilli was hired yesterday to manage the Baltimore Orioles, joining a team he helped beat regularly as the New York Yankees' first base coach.

Introduced at a late-afternoon news conference at Camden Yards, Mazzilli said, "This is one of the greatest days in my life. The anticipation has been overwhelming . . . I am looking at this challenge with great enthusiasm."

Mazzilli, 48, becomes a major league manager for the first time. He agreed to a two-year contract with two one-year club options.

During Mazzilli's four seasons with the Yankees, New York won the AL East every season and Baltimore finished fourth.

"I want to thank the Yankees for giving me the opportunity to come to Baltimore," he said.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who granted the Orioles permission to talk to Mazzilli, said in a statement, "Lee had some wonderful years here with the Yankees. It's an exceptionally good opportunity, and I wish him all the luck in the world."

Other candidates considered by the Orioles included Grady Little, Terry Francona, Tom Foley, Baltimore bench coach Sam Perlozzo, and former Orioles players Eddie Murray, Rich Dauer, and Rick Dempsey.

Seattle tabs Bavasi

Bill Bavasi was hired to replace Pat Gillick as general manager of the Seattle Mariners. Bavasi, 45, is the former general manager of the California and Anaheim Angels. "This is a tremendous opportunity for me," he said. "The Mariners' franchise is one of the elite franchises in all of baseball. I am looking forward to getting to work immediately." During Bavasi's 16-year tenure with the Angels as farm director, assistant general manager, and general manager, the team acquired and developed many of the players that helped it win the 2002 World Series . . . A 19-year-old man arrested in the death of a Cincinnati Reds outfielder told police he was involved, according to court documents released yesterday. Reginald Riddle of Harvey, Ill., made an initial court appearance yesterday. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, and burglary but wasn't charged. According to court records, Riddle said in an interview with police that he was involved in the death of Reds outfielder Dernell Stenson . . . The Chicago Cubs exercised their $6 million option for righthander Matt Clement . . . Robert Fick's one-year stay with the Atlanta Braves ended when the first baseman cleared waivers and became a free agent. He batted .269 with 11 homers and a career-high 80 RBIs, but he slumped badly in the second half of the season . . . Albert Belle and four other players filed for free agency, raising the total to a record 210. Belle has not played for the past three seasons because of a degenerative hip condition, but remained on Baltimore's roster and disabled list so the team could collect insurance . . . The Cardinals declined to exercise their $2.5 million option on reliever Mike DeJean, making him a free agent.

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