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Marlins replace Torberg with McKeon

MIAMI, May 11 (UPI) -- The Florida Marlins, who had lost seven of their last eight games, fired Manager Jeff Torborg Sunday and replaced him with 72-year-old Jack McKeon.

Florida then went out and defeated the Colorado Rockies, 7-2, making McKeon's debut a successful one and improving his career record to 771-733. He had last managed the Cincinnati Reds to an 85-77 record in 2000, one year after earning Manager of the Year honors when the team won 96 games and lost in a one-game playoff to the New York Mets for the wild card.

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"I feel like I'm a seasoned citizen in both years and baseball experience but I'm not a miracle worker," McKeon said. "We've got lot work to do. I understand we've got a good bunch of ballplayers and guys here and hopefully we can take this club to another level."

With Sunday's win, the Marlins improved to just 17-22 and completed a six-game homestand. Carl Pavano turned in a solid start Sunday, but he and Brad Penny are the only two of Florida's five starters currently healthy as McKeon inherits a team in disarray.

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A.J. Burnett, 26, is done for at least a year after undergoing "Tommy John" ligament surgery on his right elbow. Josh Beckett, 21, is sidelined at least three weeks with a sprained ligament in his right elbow.

Mark Redman is out with a fractured left thumb and Saturday the team lost Michael Tejera, who left the game with a right Achilles strain and lower back pain. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez also left Saturday's game with lightheadedness and Mike Redmond played Sunday.

"He's pretty simple, just go out play hard, give it all you've got and have fun," Redmond said about McKeon. "He wants us to enjoy ourselves and have fun. It's as simple as you can make it. He's feeling the players out like we're playing him out."

McKeon also has managed the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres. The Marlins open a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Monday.

"It hasn't changed for me," McKeon said. "I had a meeting with my players and went back and looked at my notes and they were almost identical to those when I took over San Diego in 1988. It's ironic, this is the third time I've taken a club over in midseason and the first time I won the first game. I'm like a kid with a new toy."

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In addition to Torborg, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was fired, as was Torbor's son, strength and conditioning coach Dale Torborg.

Bench coach Jeff Cox was reassigned. The team named Doug Davis bench coach and promoted minor league pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal to pitching coach.

Torborg came under increased scrutiny for the way they handled the young starters. High pitch counts and how the team handled injuries to the rotation resulted in widespread criticism of the organization's direction.

At the start of the season, team owner Jeff Loria, a good friend of Torborg, said the team should compete for a postseason berth. But Florida is just percentage points ahead of the last-place New York Mets in the National League East.

The Marlins were 95-105 under the 62-year-old Torborg, who assumed the managerial reins when Loria purchased the team prior to the 2002 season. Florida has not had a winning record since going 92-70 and winning the World Series in 1997. The following year, former owner H. Wayne Huizenga dismantled the team.

Torborg, who has a career managerial record of 634-718, also has managed the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and Montreal Expos. He was 12th among active managers in wins and 11th in games managed, but never guided a team to a postseason berth.

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