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Mets fire Torborg; name Dallas Green replacement

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets, baseball's most disappointing team so far this season, fired Manager Jeff Torborg Wednesday night and named Dallas Green his replacement.

Torborg's firing comes with the Mets mired in last place in the weak National League East, 14 games behind front-running Philadelphia. Ironically, the Mets announced Torborg's dismissal 30 minutes after rallying from three runs down in the ninth inning to defeat Pittsburgh, 6-4, on Bobby Bonilla's two-run homer in the 10th.

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The victory was the Mets' first this season after trailing after eight innings and ended a five-game losing streak.

The Mets also announced the firing of first base coach Barry Foote and bullpen coach Dave LaRouche. Foote will be replaced by Darrell Johnson, who managed the Boston Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners.

Green, 59, will manage the club for the rest of the season and signed a two-year contract through the 1995 season.

Mets General Manager Al Harazin said he decided to fire Torborg after the Mets were swept in a three-game series at Montreal last weekend.

'It became almost certain in my mind that we couldn't wait any longer to make a change,' Harazin said.

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Harazin said he resisted a managerial change and was willing to give Torborg and his staff through the end of the season. After the Mets' slow start, Harazin said he still wanted to wait until the All-Star break before making a move.

'We couldn't go through again in 1993 what we did in '92,' Harazin said. 'We simply had to turn the club around and become the kind of club we had been in the '80s.

'It's obviously a joint failure,' Harazin said. 'We have all let Jeff down -- players, staff and all of us in management.'

Green, considered a strong disciplinarian, has been working as a scout in the Mets organization. Green, who has previously managed the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, becomes the 15th manager in Mets' franchise history.

Harazin said Green would take over the club on Friday when the Mets open a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves.

Harazin said Torborg met with his players following the game and that he and Torborg had an emotional talk.

'I felt like I let Jeff down and he felt like he let me down,' Harazin said. 'The fact of the matter is it just didn't work.

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'I can't tell you how I personally feel about this man and manager. He's probably one of the most decent people I have ever worked with or around. I couldn't feel worse about putting him through this.'

The Mets, who have lost 18 of their last 23 games, entered the season with high hopes of turning around a fifth-place finish in 1992 and have seen their 1993 season go from bad to worse in just 38 games.

Torborg, who Tuesday morning awoke to radio reports of his imminent firing, was taunted by fans during a recent home losing skid with chants of 'Jeff must go! He had been preparing himself for the firing for some time and had wanted to leave the team on a high note.

'I was delighted to win tonight, I was sorry for Al,' Torborg said. 'I have a feeling of frustration and of leaving something undone. I didn't want to leave this job and I leave it undone.'

Since Torborg's hiring, the Mets' most notable acquisitions have been free-agent star Bonilla and pitcher Brett Saberhagen from Kansas City. But neither has lived up to expectations.

Torborg took over the team on Oct. 11, 1991 after managing the Chicago White Sox from 1989-1991. He was named the American League Manager of the Year after his second season in Chicago, leading a young White Sox squad to an impressive second-place showing in the AL-West.

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The Mets signed Torborg, 51, to a four-year $1.9 million deal and touted him as the ideal man for the job. The Mets could manage no better than a fifth-place finish in the division in Torborg's first season, going 72-90.

New York is obliged to pay Torborg more than $1 million through 1995.

Pittsburgh Manager Jim Leyland, who coached with Torborg in Chicago said: 'Nobody want to see anyone lose their job. There is a fraternity of managers. I worked with Jeff in Chicago. I respect him and what he has gone through the last three days is unfair. He's a class act all the way.'

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