Saturday, April 27, 2002

Rockies fire Buddy Bell

Reds sweep was last straw

The Associated Press

        DENVER — Colorado Rockies manager Buddy Bell was fired Friday with the team off to the worst start in club history. The Rockies were 6-16 after a three-game sweep in Cincinnati that ended Thursday.

        “I am disappointed that this has not worked out the way I wanted it to,” said Bell, a former Reds third baseman and Moeller High School star. “I wanted to see this thing through.”

        “Quite honestly, we need to start playing the game with more joy and more confidence than we've played already this year,” O'Dowd said. “We really need to start building some positive momentum.

        “This is about a new step forward.”

        Clint Hurdle, the Rockies' hitting coach for the last six years and a former Reds OF-catcher, replaced Bell.

        O'Dowd said Hurdle, 44, is the “manager of the Rockies — not interim manager — for the remainder of the season. Clint brings passion, he brings enthusiasm, he brings a charisma I think this ballclub needs.”

        The Rockies had the worst record in the National League.

        “We are beat up right now,” Hurdle said. “We are not playing a good game of baseball. My job is going to be hopefully to re-instill some confidence.

        “I've asked these guys to just come out firing. We've got nothing to lose. We have talent, we have skills, we should be competitive. But we need to play the game and not worry about the outcome. If we're going to err, I want us to err on the side of aggressive nature than on the side of caution.

        “Sometimes teams play not to lose, and I think our club falls in that category right now. I've challenged our men to play to win.”

        Hurdle said he was excited about the opportunity but hadn't thought he would become a manager this way.

        “This is not the way I would have written the story for the opportunity to evolve,” Hurdle said.

        O'Dowd, who hired Bell as manager shortly after being named Colorado's GM in September 1999, said he had mixed feelings about the firing.

        “From a personal standpoint, this was really tough,” he said. “But from a professional standpoint, I don't think it was that tough.”

        Colorado pitcher Mike Hampton and Todd Helton said the players take the blame for Bell's firing.

        “I think we're all pretty much in shock,” Hampton said. “Any time things go bad, the first person to go is the manager. That's just the way it is. But we blame ourselves.”

        Hampton, a disappointing 0-3 with a 8.88 ERA this season, added, “If you fire anybody, you should have fired me.”

        Hampton called Hurdle's promotion “a plus. He's familiar with this organization, and that's probably the only plus out of this.”

        Helton called Hurdle a “tireless worker, very organized and very outgoing. Maybe he can shake some things up.”

        Helton arrived at Coors Field before Bell departed.

        “I just gave him a hug,” Helton said. “There wasn't much to be said.”

        Bell was the third major league manager fired since the start of the season. Phil Garner was let go by Detroit on April 9, while Milwaukee fired Davey Lopes on April 18. All three teams have seen large attendance drops: Colorado entered Friday with the fifth-largest falloff the NL at 42,110, averaging 35,776 for 10 home dates.

        Boston fired Joe Kerrigan during spring training.

        Bell, 50, was in his third season with the Rockies. His only season with a winning record was 2000, when the Rockies finished 82-80, and he leaves with a 161-185 record. He also managed in Detroit.

        As a player, Bell was a five-time All-Star in 18 seasons in the major leagues, playing most of his career with Cleveland, Texas and Cincinnati. A third basemen, he led his league in fielding three times and won six consecutive Gold Gloves.


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- Rockies fire Buddy Bell

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