Fredi Gonzalez staying as Braves manager
ATLANTA (AP) — Fredi Gonzalez figured it would be a while before he learned his future with the Atlanta Braves.
Instead, the word came quickly — he’ll be the manager next year.
Less than a week after the end of a disappointing season, interim general manager John Hart announced Friday that Gonzalez will continue to manage the team in 2015, ending speculation about a possible change in the dugout.
“I’m excited to get going again,” Gonzalez told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “Obviously, I think the organization giving me another opportunity is terrific. We’ll see if we can get back to our winning ways.”
The Braves finished 79-83, a daunting 17 games behind Washington in the NL East and only their third losing season in the last 24 years.
GM Frank Wren was fired with a week to go in the season, after the team was eliminated from contention, and Gonzalez thought his status would be on hold until the hiring of Wren’s permanent replacement.
But, with no timetable for making that decision, the Braves decided to stick with Gonzalez for at least one more season. He is under contract through 2015.
“I guess they felt it was good to keep me, give me another year, and work from there,” Gonzalez said.
There have been no talks about a contract extension, at least for now, but he doesn’t think that will put him in an uncomfortable situation next season.
“All of my coaching career, other than my managing career, I was always on one-year contracts,” Gonzalez said. “That doesn’t bother me one bit.”
While the manager is staying, there will be some changes on his staff.
Hitting coach Greg Walker already announced his resignation, and two more coaches were let go as part of Friday’s announcement: third-base coach Doug Dascenzo and assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher.
Dascenzo will be replaced by former Houston Astros manager Bo Porter. The other two spots have yet to be filled.
The remainder of the coaching staff will return in 2015: pitching coach Roger McDowell, bench coach Carlos Tosca, first-base coach Terry Pendleton and bullpen coach Eddie Perez.
Porter managed the Astros for less than two seasons, posting a record of 110-190 before he was fired on Sept. 1. He previously played for Gonzalez in the Braves’ minor league system and was the third-base coach when Gonzalez managed the Marlins.
“I have a rapport with him,” Gonzalez said. “I think he’s a very good third-base coach and base-running guy who will help us get back to the playoffs.”
Dascenzo lasted only one year on Gonzalez’s staff after replacing Brian Snitker. Gonzalez said the change was no reflection on Dascenzo’s performance.
“Sometimes people get caught in situations that are not under their control,” the manager said. “I don’t think Dougie did anything wrong. He’s a hell of a third-base coach.”
Gonzalez, who has led the Braves to a pair of postseason appearances and an NL East title during his four years as manager, had strong support among the three-man committee selecting a new GM — especially his predecessor, Bobby Cox.
“There was no quit at all,” Cox has said. “I’m very familiar with the clubhouse, and it was as high energy as you could get under the circumstances. I think Fredi has done a remarkable job since taking over for me.”
Cox, Hart and team president John Schuerholz are conducting the search for Wren’s replacement. There is a chance that Hart, a former GM with both Cleveland and Texas, could take the job, though he has made it clear that at age 66 his preference is to remain a team adviser.
Gonzalez said Monday he didn’t mind waiting a few weeks to be told if he still had a job with the Braves, even if the delay limited his chances of landing another managing job.
“I don’t think I’m a hot commodity out there,” he joked. “Maybe if somebody needs a bullpen coach or something.”
For one more year, at least, he’s still the manager of the Braves.
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