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BALTIMORE - Joe Girardi turned down an offer to manage the Baltimore Orioles, a decision Thursday that ended the team's spirited effort to secure its top choice for the job.

The Orioles began negotiating with Girardi soon after firing Sam Perlozzo on Monday. The sides appeared headed toward an agreement on Wednesday, but Girardi ultimately decided against getting back in the dugout.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said Girardi withdrew his name from consideration because "he wasn't ready to leave his family.''

"He just didn't feel like he should go at this particular time,'' MacPhail said. "I'm disappointed, but undaunted.''

Dusty Baker and former Orioles Davey Johnson, Rick Dempsey and Don Baylor have been bandied around as possible candidates for an interview. According to MacPhail, the main qualification is enthusiasm for the position as manager of the Orioles, a team in trying to avoid its 10th consecutive losing season.

"I need somebody excited about the job, someone bullish on the future of the franchise,'' MacPhail said.

Asked if a former Oriole would have an edge, MacPhail replied, "At the end of the day, I want to get a guy I think will get us in the postseason.''

MacPhail called the pursuit of Girardi "a pre-emptive strike'' because he was perceived by the team to be the clear-cut best candidate for the job.

"Joe convinced me he was going to be prepared tactically and have the team prepared,'' said MacPhail, who offered Girardi the job Wednesday.

Girardi and his agent, Steve Mandel, "made it clear money was not the issue,'' MacPhail said.

Calls to Mandel by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

Girardi made a name for himself as a manager last year by guiding the youthful Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record. The team remained in contention for a playoff spot until September, and after the season Girardi became the first person to be voted NL Manager of the Year with a losing record.

Later, however, Girardi was fired, the result of an ongoing feud with owner Jeffrey Loria.

Upon dismissing Perlozzo, the last-place Orioles named bullpen coach Dave Trembley as interim manager. The team hoped to replace him with Girardi, but now must seek another option.

"I am now more likely to be methodical and take my time to make sure I'm confident with the decision,'' MacPhail said. "There are a lot of qualified people out there. It's not just a sea of one.''

Trembley earned his first win as a big league manager on Wednesday night, when Baltimore ended a nine-game losing streak by beating the San Diego Padres 7-1. It was the Orioles' third win in 16 games.

Girardi's decision means Trembley will receive a chance to make an impression on MacPhail and the rest of the Orioles' front office.

"We're confident with Dave at the helm until we decide where we want to go in the future,'' MacPhail said. "Dave has the benefit of not having to go through the interview process. He's doing through an audition.''

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