A's name bench coach Geren new manager

Updated: November 18, 2006, 5:52 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics' monthlong search for a new manager spanned from Japan to New York -- then ended where it started with bench coach Bob Geren, the man who sat alongside fired skipper Ken Macha all season.

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Bob Geren
Geren
The Athletics averaged 95.5 wins per season over the past six years. In the expansion era (1961 to date), only two rookie managers hired in the offseason inherited a team that averaged 95 or more wins per year over the previous six seasons: Gene Michael (1981 Yankees) and Yogi Berra (1964 Yankees).

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The A's gave Geren a two-year contract, promoting the former major league catcher to his first managerial job in the majors after extensive experience managing in the minor leagues and in winter ball.

"I'm just thrilled to death to do it," Geren said when formally introduced Friday. "The last 24 hours have been one of the most exciting days of my baseball life for sure."

Geren filled the final managerial vacancy in the major leagues this offseason, one month after the A's fired Macha.

General manager Billy Beane went with the most experience and a familiar face, his longtime friend and former high school baseball opponent in San Diego. Beane was not at Geren's news conference Friday because of a death in Beane's family.

After being hired Thursday, Geren called every player on his roster, speaking to all but two and leaving messages for them. Some A's players expressed frustration after the season with Macha's lack of communication.

"I think I set a cell phone record yesterday," Geren said. "The players seemed genuinely excited about it. I let them know we're not going to do a whole lot of things on the day-to-day basis differently. When you win 93 games, you prepared and went out and did your business the right way. I just let them know I'm going to be on their side, they're going to have an open line of communication with me and I would fight for them anyway I could."

Of the three finalists, a list that also included Colorado Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk and ESPN baseball analyst and former Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser, only Geren had any managerial experience. He was the first to interview for the job on Oct. 30.

"Different office, same uniform," said A's assistant general manager David Forst, noting there will be a smooth transition because Geren has been in the organization. "Bob is the best guy for this position and the most prepared to be a manager. It's a big plus. Like Bob said, we won 93 games and we're not going to reinvent the wheel."

Geren, a catcher for five seasons with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres, spent the 2006 season as bench coach in Oakland after three seasons as bullpen coach in his first stint on a major league coaching staff.

"I think it helped him quite a bit," Beane said Tuesday in his first and only public comments about the search. "But until you sit in that chair, the only preparation is really doing it."

Geren joined the A's organization in 1999 as manager of Class-A Modesto, then spent the next three seasons managing at Triple-A Sacramento. He also has managed in the Dominican Winter League and managed during three of his five seasons in the Red Sox organization from 1994-98. He has a 452-390 record in seven seasons as a minor league manager.

The 45-year-old Geren, the best man in Beane's second wedding, had to at least have some confidence in his status with the organization: He bought a house in the Bay Area this year.

Neither Beane nor Geren wanted this to be about their friendship but rather strictly about business, though they believe that having an understanding and a trust certainly won't hurt.

Geren said his credentials should speak to his ability. Beane has long considered Geren managing material -- interviewing him last year when the club briefly parted ways with Macha before re-signing him about a week later.

Macha was fired following four seasons on Oct. 16, two days after Oakland was swept by the wild-card Detroit Tigers in the AL championship series. The A's won a playoff series for the first time since 1990, ending a string of four straight first-round exits from 2000-03.

Beane took his time in the process and watched three candidates leave for managerial jobs elsewhere: Longtime A's third-base coach Ron Washington went to Texas, Angels pitching coach Bud Black became skipper in San Diego, and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta was hired this week as manager of the Washington Nationals.

Geren batted .233 in 307 major league games.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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