Sunday, September 29, 2002

Reds axe Lefebvre, keep other coaches




By John Fay jfay@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONTREAL - Six of the Reds' seven coaches are signed and returning for the 2003 season. Hitting coach Jim Lefebvre resigned. He might not have had an alternative.

        “I'm not going to comment beyond the press release,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. “We wish him the best.”

        Lefebvre was evasive in his answer: “I had a chance to sign for two years last year. But I wanted to do it for a year and see how it was. Now I want to go home for a couple of weeks, spend some time with my family and see what comes up. I don't have the intention to get out of the game.”

        Lefebvre's hitters ranked 12th in the National League in hitting at .254 and are last in hitting with runners in scoring position at .232.

        Returning are bench coach Ray Knight, pitching coach Don Gullett, bullpen coach Tom Hume, first base coach Jose Cardenal, third base coach Tim Foli and bullpen catcher Mark Berry.

        Gullett, in his 10th year as a Reds coach, said he considered looking at other offers. The New York Yankees need a pitching coach for next year. Gullett would have been the leading candidate.

        “I want to finish my career as a Cincinnati Red,” he said. “I've spent 10 years here as a coach, three as minor league instructor and seven as a player. I'm a hometown boy. I'm to the point where I don't want to bounce around.”

        The Reds didn't release the terms or length of any of the contracts. Gullett could have demanded and gotten a multiyear deal.

        “I have a contract for next year,” Gullett said.

        Getting Gullett back was a major priority for Bowden.

        “Don Gullett and Tom Hume do the best job in baseball,” Bowden said. “To get what they have out of the staff with the dollars we have is phenomenal. Look at Jimmy Haynes. We sign him for $500,000 and he wins 15 games.”

        Boone said he wasn't sure how he will replace Lefebvre.

        “I'm going to sit on a rock and contemplate it,” he said.

        One possibility is moving Knight to hitting coach.

       



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