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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Connolly: As Buck Showalter’s right-hand man, John Russell helps Orioles in many ways

Russell’s paradox: O’s/P’s

On Tuesday night, Russell returns to PNC Park as the Orioles begin a two-game interleague series in Pittsburgh. It’s his second time back since being fired, but the first since the Pirates, indeed, turned things around, making the 2013 playoffs and breaking a 20-season losing skid.

“I can’t treat it, job-wise, any differently. I can’t go in there and sulk and mope around [and say], ‘Shoot, I wish I was still here and look what they’ve done. I wish they had done that when I was here,’ ” Russell said. “It’s all water under the bridge. I will go in there and do my job and help the Orioles try to kick their butt a little bit.”

Russell may choose his words carefully, but he speaks his mind when asked direct questions. It’s one of the reasons he and Showalter have become close, even though they really didn’t know each other personally when Russell first was hired.

So when asked about his feelings concerning the Pirates’ situation, Russell, who was hired and fired by current Pittsburgh general manager Neil Huntington, doesn’t sugarcoat things.

“It hurt. It did. Because I felt like I gave everything I had for three years,” Russell said. “It is something I took a lot of pride in, and to get it taken away was something that hurt a little bit. But it’s four years later, and it’s time to move on.”

...Said Showalter: “Are you looking for substance or style? I think John’s substance is his style. ā€¦ I think he is very charismatic, but I look for different qualities that are attractive to me as opposed to someone who is doing handstands and saying, ‘Look at me.’ “

Russell has heard it all before. As the losses mounted in Pittsburgh, he was criticized for his stoic nature. While he was winning games in the minor leagues and named Baseball America’s top managerial prospect in 2002, though, there were no concerns about his personality.

“If we had won 90 games ā€¦ or whatever [in Pittsburgh], then I would have been a calming effect, I would have been what the players needed,” Russell said. “I know I’m not a real talkative guy, but if people ask me questions, I have no problem talking to anybody. But to say, ‘He is stoic or has no personality or no charisma,’ what is that?

“If you win games, nobody really gives a crap what your personality is, as long as you’re doing the right thing.”

Repoz Posted: May 20, 2014 at 09:24 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: orioles, pirates

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