Tigers fire Pujols

Sept. 30, 2002 at 11:18 AM
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DETROIT, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The Detroit Tigers said Monday that they will not renew the contract of Manager Luis Pujols and his coaching staff for next year after a 55-106 season, 100 of those losses with him at the helm.

Team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski announced the long-expected move following early morning meetings on Monday, first with Pujols then with members of his staff. It was not immediately clear whether Pujols or his coaches would be offered jobs elsewhere within the organization.

Hitting coach Merv Rettenmund had already announced that he won't be back next season, and Juan Samuel had hinted that he might not return as well.

Most of the coaches joined Pujols after he was promoted from bench coach when the Tigers lost their first six games. He replaced Phil Garner on an interim basis April 8, but was signed a day later for the remainder of the season.

Pujols left and flew home to Florida after his meeting and was not available for comment. Samuel and bullpen coach Jeff Jones declined comment on their way out of Comerica Park.

Pujols had one previous season of managing under his belt, having led the Tigers' Double-A affiliate in Erie (Pa.) to an Eastern League division title in 2001. To help with the transition, he and Dombrowski persuaded former Expos manager Felipe Alou, under whom Pujols served as bench coach with Montreal for eight years, to join the club as Pujols' bench coach. Pitching coach Steve McCatty served in the same capacity for Pujols at Erie, while Rafael Landestoy was a minor-league infield instructor.

Pujols lost his first five games but ended the Tigers' 0-11 start on April 16. They in late April and came close .500 record heading into late May, but a combination of poor play and numerous injuries followed, leaving Pujols at the helm of a rebuilding club.

Between injuries, four trades and a handful of waiver pickups, the team used 57 players this season and called up outfielder Craig Monroe five different times.

Also, Detroit has one of the most anemic offenses in baseball.

The Tigers placed fourth in sacrifice flies and managed to erase an early-season lead in grounding into double plays, but they finished last in the majors in runs scored and on-base percentage, and 26th in stolen bases and sacrifice bunts. Their total of 575 runs scored made them the first team in the American League to finish last in the majors by a 50-run margin since the 1978 Oakland A's.

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