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White Sox, Yanks Oust Managers : Fregosi Is Fired; Piniella Replaced by Dallas Green

October 08, 1988| from Times Wire Services and

The season has ended unhappily if not unexpectedly for managers Lou Piniella and Jim Fregosi, who were fired Friday.

George Steinbrenner, New York Yankees owner, made the 16th managerial change since he bought the club in 1973 when he replaced Piniella with Dallas Green.

The Chicago White Sox fired Fregosi, ending a strained two-year association with General Manager Larry Himes.

It was the second time Piniella had been replaced as Yankee manager. Steinbrenner named Piniella to take Billy Martin's place on the day of the seventh game of the 1985 World Series and replaced Piniella with Martin during the 1987 Series.

Piniella was made general manager last year when Martin was rehired for his fifth term as manager. Piniella resigned as general manager in May and returned as manager in June when Martin was fired after a brawl in a Texas topless bar.

The Yankees were in second place when Piniella took over, but an already suspect pitching staff collapsed, and the team finished fifth in the American League East.

"I know this is a great opportunity for me," said Green, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series championship in 1980 and was general manager of the Chicago Cubs until resigning in 1987.

Green, who said he signed a two-year contract, is used to managerial conflicts with ownership.

"Any management situation is liable to explode," he said. "I thought we were doing very well in Chicago and it exploded. In Philadelphia it exploded. I know it's part of the game. I'm not afraid to cross any bridge that comes to me."

Piniella's firing was no surprise, but because of a request by Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, it was not expected to be announced until after postseason play.

Steinbrenner and Piniella met in Tampa, Fla., Friday but were not available for comment. Piniella's status with the team was undetermined, a spokesman for the team said.

Piniella, who was a key member of the Yankee teams that won consecutive World Series titles in 1977-78, managed New York to an 89-73 record in 1987 and a fourth-place finish.

With Piniella as general manager, the Yankees had an active off-season, signing free agents Jack Clark, a designated hitter, and pitcher John Candelaria and acquiring catcher Don Slaught, shortstop Rafael Santana and pitcher Richard Dotson in trades.

The addition of Clark to All-Stars Don Mattingly, Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield gave the Yankees a first-rate hitting attack that was unable to make up for second-rate pitching.

Fregosi's situation had less to do with his managerial ability than his philosophical differences with Himes, who replaced Ken Harrelson as general manager in 1986.

Himes traded away high-priced talent for young prospects and set his sights on the future whereas Fregosi, hired by Harrelson, was more interested in the present. Himes also tried to fire Fregosi last spring, but owner Jerry Reinsdorf intervened.

Fregosi, 46, was under contract through 1989. But he is not expected to have difficulty getting another position. He is considered a candidate as manager of the Angels, for whom he played for most of his 18 major league seasons. He also managed them in 1978-81, and they won the American League West title in 1979.

The Angels fired their manager, Cookie Rojas, with eight games left in the 1988 regular season.

Himes has never criticized Fregosi's managerial skills and didn't Friday when the firing was announced.

"Philosophical differences led to today's decision," Himes said in a statement. "No reflection of Jim's managerial ability should be read in this course of action.

"To the contrary, Jim did a fine job during his course with the White Sox with the talent at his disposal. However, after spending the past year attempting to resolve our philosophical differences, it became apparent it is in the best interests of the Chicago White Sox that a managerial change be made at this time."

Himes said he hopes to name Fregosi's successor before the annual winter meetings, which will be held in Atlanta the first week of December.

Among those reportedly under consideration are Jim Lefebvre, 46, the third-base coach and batting instructor of the Oakland Athletics, and Bucky Dent, former Yankee and White Sox shortstop who has been managing in the Yankee farm system.

Lefebvre has said he would not discuss any job until the conclusion of the playoffs and World Series.

Himes traded away high-priced stars as the White Sox payroll went from one the American League's highest to one of the lowest.

He dealt away pitchers Dotson, Floyd Bannister and Jose DeLeon, receiving in return outfielder Dan Pasqua, pitchers Melido Perez and Ricky Horton, and minor-league outfielder Lance Johnson.

Shortly before the season ended, Fregosi said, "Everybody has his own ideas. Larry's the boss and he's going to do what he wants. He wants young players to build from within."

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