Reds reward 46-42 Narron with one-year contract

Updated: September 29, 2005, 6:32 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Keeping the Cincinnati Reds from giving up after a horrible start has earned manager Jerry Narron another year in Cincinnati.

Jerry Narron
"The only reason I'm coming back is because the players played well,'' Jerry Narron said.

The Reds extended his contract on Thursday through the 2006 season with a mutual option for 2007. Narron began the season as the Reds bench coach and was appointed interim manager when Dave Miley was fired June 21 after the team's 27-43 start.

Cincinnati is 46-43 under Narron.

"Really, the only reason I'm coming back is because the players played well," Narron said. "With where we were in the standings, what our record was, it would have been very easy to just pretty much give up on the team part of it and just play individually.

"One thing they have done is continue to play as a team. This is more of a credit to how they've played than anything I've done."

The Reds are finishing their fifth consecutive losing season, their longest such streak since 1945-55.

"Since the All-Star Game, we've been playing a little bit better," outfielder Adam Dunn said. "That's definitely a big reason why he's coming back."

General manager Dan O'Brien credited Narron with the team's second-half improvement.

"He earned the respect of the players, and I think Jerry's been very consistent in his expectations of our club trying to play the game the right way," O'Brien said.

Narron said he was happy with a one-year deal, considering that some shares in the team are for sale. Three of the team's limited owners are trying to sell their shares, representing 51.5 percent of the Reds. Owner Carl Lindner can buy the shares and has said he plans to retain his control over the team.

"With the circumstances, I have no problem with it," Narron said. "I have confidence in myself and in the people that are here to do everything we can, if it's kicking, scratching, clawing, to win as many games as possible."

News of his extension was met by smiles in the Reds clubhouse.

"I think it's a great signing," outfielder Ryan Freel said. "He has all the respect of the players and I think he's done a heck of a job since he's been here and I think he deserves this position."

Freel said Narron's ability to communicate with the players "has been phenomenal."

"I know all of the players respect him. He's been around for a while. He knows what he's doing," Freel said. "Nothing against Miley, he did everything he could, but the communication level wasn't there and nobody know what was going on, nobody could get an answer. On the flip side, Jerry will tell you straight-up whether you like it or not and that's all a player can ask for."

Narron had a 134-162 record as Texas' manager in 2001-02. He was Boston's bench coach in 2003 and managed four years in Baltimore's minor league system.

Cincinnati said earlier this month that it would wait until after the season to decide Narron's fate. The Reds completed their final homestand last week, then headed for Milwaukee and St. Louis to conclude the season.

O'Brien said the deal was announced now so that Narron could talk to his players about next season and so that he could the club's organizational meetings in Sarasota, Fla., next week. O'Brien and other front-office officials have accompanied the team on its final trip.

Narron said he would make decisions on his coaching staff within the next week to 10 days.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press