Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Oester fired from job in minors

Naehring says 'fit' was wrong

By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer

ATLANTA - It seemed like a perfect fit when Ron Oester, a tough player bred in the old-school Reds tradition, was hired to lead the on-field minor-league operation. It didn't work out that way.

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Photos of Tuesday's game
Oester was relieved of his duties last week, just as he was about to depart for the Instructional League.

"I guess I wasn't enough of a yes man," Oester said.

Oester said he was shocked by the move and wasn't sure who was behind it.

Reds director of player development Tim Naehring said it simply wasn't working out.

"Hindsight is 20-20," Naehring said. "Obviously, Ronnie Oester is a good person and a good baseball man. But the demands of the on-field coordinator are time-consuming. With organizing the schedule and everything else, it's a difficult job. It wasn't a good fit."

The Reds hired Oester Dec. 31. The move was big news because Oester had left the Reds in 2001 after 27 years in the organization, a year after the manager's job was taken out from under him in a misunderstanding with then-general manager Jim Bowden.

Oester was working in the Philadelphia Phillies' player development department when the Reds wooed him to a position created under new GM Dan O'Brien.

"I wanted to help the club get back to the way it used to be," Oester said. "I thought I was doing that. I guess I didn't kiss enough (butt).

"The puzzling thing to me is the same guys survive year after year and the organization doesn't get any better."

Naehring said the job will be filled.

"We don't have anyone in mind," Naehring said. "I'm going to sit down with Dan and talk about it. I want to make sure whoever it is is 100 percent comfortable with the way we do things."

Oester has no immediate plans. He said he'll consider his options for a few weeks.

BEREAVEMENT: Relief pitcher Ryan Wagner returned home to Texas to attend the funeral of his grandfather. Wagner will miss between three and seven days.

CASEY HONORED: Upper St. Clair High School will retire Sean Casey's No. 22 jersey Saturday.

Casey will attend the ceremony. The Reds play the Pirates in Pittsburgh that night.

"I'm big in Upper St. Clair," Casey said. "It's the first jersey they've retired."

Casey, No. 21 with the Reds, wore 22 in high school because it was Will Clark's number.

So were you a great high school player, Case?

"Not really," he said, "I hit .511 as a junior and .440 as a senior. My senior year, we won the (West Pennsylvania) championship. That was the first time the school did it."

UP NEXT: The Reds play the Braves in the second game of the three-game series. Right-hander Josh Hancock (4-2, 5.40 ERA) faces right-hander Paul Byrd (8-5, 3.26).

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