Royals manager Bell to resign at end of season

Updated: August 2, 2007, 8:49 AM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Buddy Bell chose family over baseball on Wednesday, resigning as manager of the last-place Kansas City Royals effective at the end of the season.

An emotional Bell, who will turn 56 on Aug. 27, announced the decision before Kansas City's game against the Minnesota Twins. He will join the Royals' front office in 2008 as a senior adviser to general manager Dayton Moore.

"I had to make a choice between managing and my family, and to me that's a no-brainer," said Bell, who spoke to Moore earlier in the season about leaving the team.

"There are some things I want to do in my life right now, and that's spending time with my family and with my daughter, in particular," Bell said.

His daughter Traci was born with Down syndrome, and Bell said he wants to spend more time with his growing number of grandchildren.

Bell said health concerns also played a part in his decision. Last September, he had surgery to remove a cancerous growth in his throat.

It doesn't have anything to do with what we've been through at Kansas City. I wanted to wait until things got better and then decide if I still felt this way.

Buddy Bell

The announcement comes as the Royals -- who beat the Twins 5-3 in 10 innings Wednesday night -- are showing signs of hope after two straight winning months. It was the first time they've had two straight winning months in four seasons.

The frugal franchise opened its checkbook in the offseason, signing right-hander Gil Meche to a five-year, $55 million contract and reliever Octavio Dotel -- who was traded to Atlanta for starter Kyle Davies on Tuesday -- to a $5 million, one-year deal.

There are also promising young bats in the lineup, but it has not been nearly enough for a team that has lost 100 or more games in four its last five seasons. The Royals, who haven't reached the postseason since 1985, are 48-59 and tied with the Chicago White Sox for last in the AL Central.

Bell was hired by former general manager Allard Baird to replace Tony Pena on May 31, 2005. The team went on to finish a franchise-worst 56-106, then went 62-100 last season -- costing Baird his job.

Moore was hired in the middle of the season, and began making sweeping changes to the front office. Many thought he would also make a change in managers, but he and Bell have had an amicable relationship and Bell insisted he is leaving on his own terms.

A five-time All-Star in an 18-year career, Bell said he planned to move to Cincinnati while continuing to work for the Royals organization. "I'm still going to be a part of what the Royals are all about," he said.

Bell managed the Detroit Tigers from 1996-98 and the Colorado Rockies from 2000-02, and has a career managerial record of 498-690. With a 153-228 record as Royals manager, Bell holds the worst winning percentage among full-time managers in team history.

It's not surprising that the lifelong baseball man plans to remain involved in the game. His father, Gus, played 15 seasons in the majors, and his three sons -- David, Michael and Ricky -- all played professionally.

Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said he was surprised by Bell's announcement.

"It seems like he still has a lot left in the tank, but there are family reasons he has for moving on," Grudzielanek said.

"It's going to be huge to keep him around," he added, alluding to the team's recent success. "With the young group we have here, just the way he goes about his business in spring training and during the season, he's been a big part of it."

Outfielder David DeJesus said he hopes Bell's resignation, with two months left in the season, will not become a distraction. Moore declined to discuss candidates who could replace Bell, saying only that the team would begin a thorough search.

"We've got a long way to go this year and we need to go out there and not let this bother us," DeJesus said. "He's going to be our manager still so all we can do is go out there and keep playing the way we've been playing."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press