The Colorado Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle yesterday, less than 2 years after their incredible "Roctober" run to the World Series, and replaced him with bench coach Jim Tracy for the rest of the season.
Without reliable hitting, pitching or defense, the Rockies stumbled to an 18-28 start, but got off on the right foot under Tracy, with a 3-0 win over the visiting San Diego Padres last night.
Jason Marquis (7-3) pitched eight sharp innings for Colorado.
"It was been a tremendous ride. It has been life lesson after life lesson," Hurdle said.
Hurdle, who had been Colorado's manager since replacing Buddy Bell 3 weeks into the 2002 season, was 534-625 for a .460 winning percentage in his seven-plus seasons.
"Obviously, he takes the sword for us," first baseman Todd Helton said in a subdued clubhouse. "He didn't have any bad at-bats, he didn't throw any bad pitches. He's the same manager he was 2 years ago. So, we realize that ultimately we're the reason he got fired."
Hurdle, who has been with the organization for 16 seasons, was offered a job in the club's front office, but didn't address that opportunity at a news conference.
Since the Rockies' only trip to the World Series in 2007, where they were swept by the Boston Red Sox, Colorado was 24 games under .500.
Hurdle said general manager Dan O'Dowd told him in a meeting yesterday morning that the organization wanted a change.
"I wish Jim Tracy nothing but good luck, good fortune, good health and success with the ballclub," Hurdle said. "I wish the players the same."
Tracy has a 562-572 managerial record with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2001-05) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2006-07), with a division title in 2004. He joined the Rockies' staff this winter at the behest of O'Dowd.
Tracy said he wouldn't make wholesale changes.
Colorado Springs Sky Sox manager Tom Runnells will fill Tracy's spot as bench coach.
Hurdle, who was in the final year of his contract, was hamstrung this season by the loss of his best hitter and his best pitcher as the Rockies got off to their second straight slow start, which affected attendance.
Slugger Matt Holliday was traded to Oakland in November after refusing a contract extension, and ace Jeff Francis was lost for the season with shoulder surgery this spring.
Except for that magical month at the end of the 2007 season, when the Rockies won their first NL pennant by going on an unfathomable 21-1 run-up to the World Series, Hurdle's teams never were very good.
Aside from their 90-73 record in '07, the Rockies owned nothing but losing records under Hurdle.
* Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, sidelined with tightness in his right groin, is feeling better and could return to the starting lineup today against the New York Mets. He was hurt against the Phillies on Tuesday.
* New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada (hamstring) was activated from the 15-day disabled list.
* Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin went on the 15-day disabled list with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
* Texas Rangers lefthander Matt Harrison went on the 15-day DL with a sore pitching shoulder.
* The Indians recalled lefthander Rafael Perez from Triple A Columbus and designated outfielder David Dellucci for assignment to make roster room.
In NL games yesterday:
* At New York, Omir Santos hit a game-ending single in the 11th inning and also homered in the fifth, leading the Mets to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.
* At Chicago, Koyie Hill homered and Kosuke Fukudome hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh, rallying Cubs over the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1.
* At Pittsburgh, Brian Moehler (2-3) pitched his first complete game in nearly 9 years, helping the Houston Astros beat the Pirates, 6-1.
* At Milwaukee, Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer and Corey Hart had a solo shot as the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds, 3-2.
In AL games:
* At Cleveland, Andy Pettitte (5-1) pitched five scoreless innings before leaving with a stiff back in the sixth, and the New York Yankees beat the Indians, 3-1.
* At Kansas City, Jermaine Dye's first-inning homer ignited a 17-hit attack and the Chicago White Sox beat the Royals, 11-2.
* At Anaheim, Jason Vargas (2-0) allowed two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings as the Seattle Mariners beat the Angels, 5-2.
* At St. Petersburg, Fla., Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford homered, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Minnesota Twins, 5-3.
* At Arlington, Texas, Andruw Jones hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics, 6-3, in the first game of a doubleheader. Taylor Teagarden drove in two runs and scored another as Texas completed the sweep, 5-2.
* At Toronto, Scott Rolen and Rod Barajas had two RBI each and the Blue Jays snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
* At Baltimore, Luke Scott homered twice and drove in five runs as the Orioles defeated the Detroit Tigers, 7-2. *