Narron fired as Reds manager after loss to Cardinals

Updated: July 2, 2007, 9:53 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Asked if he'd like to see Barry Bonds hit an historic homer in Cincinnati this week, Reds manager Jerry Narron gave one of his wry smiles.

Seeing Red

The Cincinnati Reds fired manager Jerry Narron on Sunday night, hours after the team lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. The team is on pace for its first 100-loss season since 1982.

Worst Win Pct in MLB This Season
Team W-L Pct.
Reds 31-51 .378
Nationals 33-48 .407
Devil Rays 33-47 .413
Royals 34-48 .415

"I'd love to see a game played well," he said on Sunday morning.

After watching his team play another ugly one, Narron was gone.

The Reds dumped their low-key manager on Sunday night, a few hours after an 11-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals left them with the worst record in the majors and no sense that things would get better.

Narron told the Dayton Daily News that he was informed after the game that the team wanted to go in a different direction.

"It was an honor to manage the Cincinnati Reds, a team with such great tradition, and I'm sorry I was not able to get this team to win," he said. "It breaks my heart."

The Reds were the second team to change managers Sunday. Earlier in the day, Seattle's Mike Hargrove resigned.

Narron was the second big league manager to be fired this season. Baltimore's Sam Perlozzo lost his job on June 18 after the last-place Orioles couldn't shake another losing streak.

The Reds have been far worse, setting a pace for their first 100-loss season since 1982. With no improvement in sight and attendance starting to lag, the club decided to make a change -- and keep mum on the reasons why.

Advance scout Pete Mackanin was chosen interim manager. Mackanin, 55, managed the Reds' Triple-A team in Nashville from 1990-92. He was the Pirates' interim manager for the final 26 games of the 2005 season after Lloyd McClendon was fired.

"Nothing shocks me in this game anymore," relief pitcher Todd Coffey said, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's like 2005, when the organization made a switch with Dave Miley. I guess they think a switch is necessary again."

Owner Bob Castellini and general manager Wayne Krivsky declined comment until a news conference on Monday, a day off before the start of a home series against the San Francisco Giants. Narron didn't return a phone message.

Narron gave no indication either before or after Sunday's game that he felt his job was on the line. Ultimately, a bullpen that has been a work-in-progress for two years made some sort of change inevitable.

The 51-year-old Narron tried to set a take-charge tone early in the season, when he moved Ken Griffey Jr. to right field and dropped him out of his accustomed spot at No. 3 in the batting order. Griffey didn't like it, but Narron went ahead with the moves.

He also benched third baseman Edwin Encarnacion during an April game for failing to run out a popup.

The tone may have changed, but Narron couldn't fix a bullpen that led the NL in losses and repeatedly failed to hold leads in the late innings. Reds relievers have lost 18 games, most in the league.

Before the start of the weekend series against St. Louis, Narron noted that Griffey and several other players were having impressive seasons, but the team couldn't overcome its pitching failures.

"You've got to get 27 outs, and you've got to do it every day," he said.

With the franchise headed for its seventh straight losing season -- its deepest slump in a half-century -- Castellini decided to make yet another managerial change. Since winning the World Series in 1990, the Reds have had seven managers and made only one playoff appearance -- in 1995 under Davey Johnson.

The Reds expected a return to prominence when they moved into Great American Ball Park in 2003, but it didn't happen. They fired general manager Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone midway through the season.

Miley got the next chance, but was fired midway through the 2005 season. Narron, his bench coach, took over on an interim basis and kept the job after leading the team to a 46-46 finish the rest of that season.

The Reds went 80-82 last year, the team's first under Castellini. It was their best result since 2000 and earned Narron a two-year extension through 2008.

Castellini allowed the payroll to rise $10 million to $69 million this year, hoping to contend in the weak NL Central. He also allowed Krivsky to give $71 million in contract extensions to starting pitchers Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo, the franchise's biggest spending splurge since it brought Griffey home in 2000.

It all fell apart fast.

The rotation started strong but failed. Arroyo has yet to win a game since May 6, left-hander Eric Milton has had reconstructive elbow surgery, and highly acclaimed rookie Homer Bailey has been roughed up in his last two starts.

Bailey failed to make it through the fourth inning of the 11-7 loss on Sunday that highlighted the Reds' shortcomings. They made three more errors and their bullpen turned a close game into another drubbing.

The Reds decided to fire Narron before a home series against Barry Bonds and the Giants. Bonds is only five homers shy of Hank Aaron's career record, but none of the three games was close to a sellout -- underscoring fans' indifference.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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