PITTSFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Dan Duquette waltzed right into a new gig after being fired as general manager of the Boston Red Sox.

Instead of going after the Yankees on the field, he is doing it with a song-and-dance number while portraying the manager of the Washington Senators in a local production of ``Damn Yankees'' from July 31 to Aug. 3.

Duquette is taking singing and acting lessons to prepare for his role as Benny Van Buren, who inspires his team to win the pennant with a rendition of ``You Gotta Have Heart.''

``This is my first try at anything in the theater,'' Duquette said. ``It's a challenge. But it's a lot of fun.''

The idea of staging the 1956 Tony Award-winning musical in the 111-year-old Wahconah Park came last summer to Jenny Hersch, a minority owner of the Berkshire Black Bears, Wahconah's home team.

When Hersch asked Duquette in November to play the role of Van Buren _ who enlists slugger Joe Hardy to win the championship over the Yanks _ Duquette didn't hesitate.

He figures this is a chance to try something new and give Pittsfield and the Colonial Theatre project a shot in the arm.

``Besides,'' he said, referring to a recent commercial featuring the Yankees' owner and shortstop spending a night on the town, ``If George Steinbrenner can get in a conga line with Derek Jeter, why can't I do this?''