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Coleman Manages Better From Above : Baseball: He says his season at the helm of the Padres made him a better broadcaster.

May 01, 1990|BOB WOLF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

However, this swiftness was offset by a lack of power. The Padres hit only 67 home runs. Winfield and Tenace accounted for more than half of them with 20 and 17, respectively. Montanez finished third on the team with six home runs, and no one else hit more than three.

Add to this the Padres' sorry pitching staff, and you have the makings of a disaster.

"Jones pitched three shutouts in a row, and that was the end of it," Coleman said. "His arm was gone. Wise hurt his rib cage and couldn't pitch, and he's a guy they paid $5 million for three years. Bob Shirley was our big starter with 11 wins, the same as Fingers, and Curtis had 10. Steve Mura was next with eight.

"It was obvious that the club had to be redone. Fontaine was fired and Ballard Smith (then the club's president) gave (Jack) McKeon carte blanche. Jack fired eight players, guys who were useless. Eric Rasmussen, for example. Every time he went in, he threw gas on the fire."

One of the Padres' few bright spots in that trying season was Tim Flannery, then a 22-year-old rookie infielder who was called up from the Hawaii farm club when it became apparent that Rodriguez was through.

Flannery impressed Coleman with a gung-ho attitude. He also hit exceptionally well for a month or so before tailing off to .240.

"The funny thing about Flannery was that he told me he grew up as a third baseman," Coleman said. "So I put him at third base, and I found out he had never played the position in his life. Eventually, I moved him to second, and we brought up Barry Evans to play third."

Flannery, who retired last fall, works for Channel 8 in San Diego, doing special projects and filling in as an analyst on Padre telecasts when Coleman is broadcasting other games on CBS radio. He laughed when he recalled his claim to have been a born third baseman.

"I lied to Jerry about that," Flannery said. "It was either that or sit on the bench, but he believed me, and that probably saved my career. I went through on-the-job training."

Asked what kind of manager Coleman was, Flannery said Coleman had too many things working against him to make good.

"I won't say Jerry was a great manager, and I won't say he was a bad manager," Flannery said. "In his defense, he had a lot of players who were in the last year or two of their careers, and they kind of overran him."

Coleman gradually became convinced that his managerial stint was only temporary.

"The night before the final game, I met with Jack (McKeon) and Ballard (Smith) in San Francisco," Coleman said. "I knew the end was coming, and I had kind of had it anyway. I had a three-year dual contract to manage or broadcast, so I wasn't worried.

"It was really a marvelous experience for me, and I have no regrets. I'll probably live longer without managing."

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