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OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - Bob Geren realized full well that without regular wins this year his tenure managing the Oakland Athletics would be over.
“You can’t manage a team for five years and not win and expect to still be the manager,” Geren said Friday, speaking to The Associated Press in his first public comments since being fired a day earlier. “I completely understand the game. I knew that five years ago. It’s not a shock. I’m levelheaded and understand how the game works. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Oakland general manager Billy Beane made the tough choice to fire his longtime friend, saying a change was needed after Geren’s four-plus seasons in the dugout. Geren posted a 334-376 record, including 27-36 this year after the A’s began 2011 with hopes of winning the AL West with an upgraded offense. Instead, it’s been more of the same: a rash of injuries and lack of runs.
The A’s have dealt with much of their talented young rotation being hurt, too.
“I feel great,” Geren said of his frame of mind. “I am the most thankful person to the organization for giving me a chance.”
Geren had extensive managerial experience in the minors and winter ball before Beane gave him a shot.
It’s the first time the franchise has let a manager go during the season in a quarter century. Former Arizona and Seattle skipper Bob Melvin was named interim manager for the rest of the season. The A’s lost to the White Sox at Chicago on Thursday in Melvin’s debut.
The 49-year-old Geren, let go in the final year of his contract and with his club mired in a nine-game losing streak, was criticized recently for a lack of communication by reliever Brian Fuentes. Former A’s closer Huston Street also publicly spoke out against him.
“I look at it that I gave 100 percent every single day that I worked for this organization and I’m completely comfortable with how I treated everybody,” Geren said. “You can never manage as many teams as I have and keep everybody happy. It’s impossible to do that. You’re never going to keep everybody completely satisfied. The effort I gave and how I conducted myself on and off the field, I’m happy about that.”
When Geren got the job after the 2006 season _ promoted from bench coach to replace the fired Ken Macha _ he said he considered his communication skills one of his strengths. Several players had expressed their frustrations with Macha’s ways after the ‘06 AL West champions ended with a four-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Geren will be back on the baseball diamond in a matter of weeks. He is set to help coach his two sons in the Hawaiian Collegiate Baseball League this summer on the island of Oahu.
Geren said he will coach on a part-time basis, spending two stints in Hawaii to cover at least half of the summer season.
“First and foremost I love baseball,” Geren said. “When you get a chance to work with kids and their only agenda is to get better, work hard and enjoy themselves, it will be a fun opportunity.”
Geren returned to the Bay Area late Thursday from Oakland’s road trip. He was set to attend the high school graduation of youngest son, Brett, on Friday night. The A’s drafted the catcher from San Ramon Valley High in the 42nd round this week.
Brett will attend Princeton and play baseball alongside older brother Bobby.
For now, Geren is going to cherish this rare family time he has never had in the middle of a pressure-packed 162-game season. He and wife, Pam, have been married 27 years and he has never had a summer off.
Will the former catcher manage again?
“I have no idea. It’s possible,” Geren said. “There are only 30 jobs. It’s not a really easy opportunity to get. Right now I’m not thinking about that at all.”
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