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Dallas Green did not want to risk hiring someone...

By RANDY MINKOFF, UPI Sports Writer

CHICAGO -- Dallas Green did not want to risk hiring someone who didn't fit into his baseball philosphy so he tabbed former insurance salesman Lee Elia to be his field manager for the Chicago Cubs.

Green, hired one week ago to serve as general manager and executive vice president of the Cubs, inked his third base coach when he was manager of the Philadelphia Phillies to a three-year contract to pilot the Cubs.

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Elia, 44, who played briefly with the Cubs and Chicago White Sox in the late 1960s, became the second former Phillie to be brought into the Cubs' organization. Earlier this week, Green hired another ex-Philly employee, Gordon Goldsberry, to serve as head of the farm system and scouting corps.

Elia, who was selling insurance in 1973 when Green hired him to serve in the Philadelphia organization, replaces Joey Amalfitano. Like Green, Elia also dipped into the Philadelphia chain to hire two of his three coaches.

John Vuckovich, a former Philadelphia infielder, and Billy Connors, a Phillies' minor league pitching coach, were hired along with Kansas City Royals' third base coach Gordon MacKenzie. Current Chicago batting instructor Billy Williams will be retained and one or two more coaches will be hired.

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Elia echoed Green's statements of one week ago when he said he had no timetable for building the Cubs into a pennant winner. But he did say he insisted on a long-term contract because it was 'necessary in this case.'

'My job is only secure if I win,' said Elia, who coached with the Phillies for two years and served as a manager in their minor league system.

Green, who met with Amalfitano earlier in the week and offered him a job within the Cubs' organization, said he hired Elia because he understood what Green wanted in a manager.

'Lee was brought up the Phillie way,' Green said. 'We hope to do a lot of the things that were successful in Philadelphia.'

Green described Elia as a 'player's manager,' but noted the Philadelphia native would be tough with players when the situation warranted.

Elia shied away from being called a disciplinarian.

'I played for (Leo) Durocher, (Eddie) Stanky, Andy Seminick, Jim Bunning, so some of that probably rubbed off on me,' Elia said. 'I can't tell you what kind of guy I am. I believe in having a rapport, a successful rapport with the players.'

The Cubs haven't won a pennant in 36 years and Elia wasn't promising one next year. He did say there is a good nucleus of players, including Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus and Leon Durham, but there were also some immediate needs.

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'We've got to get back to fundamental baseball,' Elia said. 'The pitching needs to be stronger and we need to emphasize defense.'

Elia said he would emphasize conditioning in spring training to offset the affects of playing all day games at Wrigley Field in the summer. He said he hoped to turn the ballpark into an advantage for his club.

'This park can be very conducive for Chicago,' said Elia, who said he would like to acquire a power hitter capable of hitting 35 homers a year. 'It will be trouble for the opposition. I guarantee you we will do that.'

Amalfitano, who served as manager for 1 seasons, said he had not made up his mind whether to accept Green's offer to stay with the Cubs' organization.

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