Struggling Reds fire low-key manager Narron

CINCINNATI (AP) — Manager Jerry Narron was fired Sunday night by the Cincinnati Reds, who raised their payroll and their expectations in the offseason only to find themselves with the worst record in the major leagues.

The Reds became 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 dump its low-key manager.

The move came a few hours after an 11-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals that left the Reds at 31-51, the worst record in the majors. 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.

No comment

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.

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 pop up.

The tone may have changed, but Narron couldn’t overcome a bullpen that led the NL in losses and repeatedly failed to hold leads in the late innings.

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.

Dave 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.

Last year

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.

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