- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - The Houston Astros are looking toward the future, and they decided there is no time like the present to get going on that.

Entering the final month of a dismal season, the Astros fired manager Bo Porter on Monday, saying the dismissal had less to do with the team’s 59-79 record than the need for “new direction” and a “united message throughout the entire organization.”

This season can’t be saved, but there was no point in wasting any time in the big, upcoming rebuilding process.

Porter, in his second season with the Astros, was replaced by interim manager Tom Lawless, who worked in Houston’s minor league system. Lawless’ first game in charge is Tuesday night at home against the first-place Los Angeles Angels.

Bench coach Dave Trembley also was let go.

Porter joined the Astros after working as a third-base coach for the Washington Nationals. The Astros went a franchise-worst 51-111 in his first season for their third straight 100-loss season.

General manager Jeff Luhnow said the decision was not based on “our current level of competitiveness.” The Astros entered Monday in fourth place in the AL West with the second-worst record in the league.

“I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible,” Luhnow said in a statement. “Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.”

Luhnow refused repeatedly to get into more detail about why Porter was let go as he fielded questions for almost 25 minutes on Monday afternoon. He did say that he had been mulling the move for a few weeks and that he made the final decision on Sunday.

“Once you make a decision it is in everyone’s best interest to move it along,” he said. “It’s easier to wait until the end of the season in some respects, but it’s not fair to Bo and it’s not fair to us.”

Owner Jim Crane said the firing was “not an easy decision to make.” It comes following recent reports citing sources who said Luhnow and Porter were not getting along. Luhnow wouldn’t address those rumors other than to say that there were “numerous inaccuracies” in the reports.

Porter issued a statement Monday afternoon.

“During my time in Houston I dedicated myself to do everything I could to help this organization win, in the short-term and for the long-term,” he said in the statement. “I am proud of what we were able to accomplish in Houston with an organization in transition. I’m gratified we were able to bring some excitement to this city as a result of our improvement from 2013 to 2014.”

Starting pitcher Scott Feldman lamented Porter’s firing and noted the care and concern he showed when Feldman’s father died earlier this season. He said he spoke to Porter on Monday and thanked him for the way he treated him throughout the season and particularly in that difficult time.

“I hope he realizes that he was doing as well as he could, given the circumstances,” Feldman said. “It’s tough to see, but Bo’s a strong guy and I’m sure he’ll be back on his feet and back in the game whenever he wants to be.”

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