ARLINGTON, Texas, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The Texas Rangers on Tuesday fired manager Jerry Narron, two days after the team finished a disappointing 72-90 campaign.
"This has been a very difficult decision because I like and respect Jerry Narron," Rangers general manager John Hart said. "But we have some tough decisions now. Our fans deserve better than the record and performance of the 2002 Texas Rangers."
Hart announced the decision after evaluation meetings with Rangers owner Tom Hicks and assistant general manager Grady Fuson.
"John, Grady and I had a very constructive discussion of our entire baseball operation over the last two days," Hicks said. "I am convinced that John and Grady have made a thorough and complete evaluation in reaching the decision to change managers."
Narron, who had a 134-162 record in parts of two seasons with Texas, is the fifth manager fired since Sunday, following Bruce Kimm of the Chicago Cubs, Luis Pujols of the Detroit Tigers, Hal McRae of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Bobby Valentine of the New York Mets.
Hart indicated that the search for a new manager will begin immediately and will include candidates from both within and outside the organization.
Within the organization, the top candidates are bench coach and former Philadelphia Phillies manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Orel Hershiser.
Possibilities outside the organization are former managers Buck Showalter and Buddy Bell. Showalter was the 1994 American League Manager of the Year with the New York Yankees and guided the Arizona Diamondbacks to 100 wins in 1999. Bell is a former Rangers third baseman who managed the Detroit Tigers and Colorado Rockies.
The new manager will inherit a team that scores plenty of runs with American League Most Valuable Player candidate Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro, but has one of the league's worst pitching staffs.
Chan Ho Park signed a five-year, $65 million contract but was plagued by injuries most of the year and won just nine games. The bullpen ranked last in the AL with 38 losses and squandered 31 of 63 save attempts.
After making the playoffs three times from 1996-99, the Rangers have finished in last place in the American League West each of the last three seasons. Narron was hired in May 2001 when Johnny Oates resigned after an 11-17 start. Texas was 62-72 under Narron.
In 2002, the Rangers got off to a 5-14 start. After winning 14 of their next 20 games to pull within a game of .500 on May 15, the Rangers went 5-17 over the next 3 1/2 weeks. Texas made a run to within six games of .500 at 35-41, but lost 16 of its next 21 games and languished in the AL West basement.
Narron had been with the Rangers organization for eight seasons, serving as Oates' third base coach from 1995 until becoming manager.