- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

HOUSTON (AP) - The Astros fired pitching coach Brad Arnsberg on Tuesday and replaced him on an interim basis with former Houston pitcher Doug Brocail.

The Astros, who have the worst record in baseball at 25-42, cited philosophical differences in announcing the change. General manager Ed Wade would not go into details.

“This is not rattle the cage, jump start things, hope this does whatever,” Wade said. “It was very clearly, as succinctly and as generally as I can say, it’s a difference of opinions and philosophical differences that I didn’t think were manageable at this point.”

Arnsberg was hired as Houston’s pitching coach in October of 2009. Houston’s pitchers have the second-highest ERA in the National League this season at 4.69 and have allowed an NL-leading 78 homers.

Wade said the move was not a product of those numbers and praised the work Arnsberg did with his staff.

“I think he developed a great relationship and a great rapport with each and every one of his pitchers,” Wade said. “And he deserves a lot of credit for the progress that people like Bud Norris and some other guys have made here. This isn’t about his ability to coach or his ability to communicate with his players. He deserves very high grades on all those things.”

Houston manager Brad Mills also praised Arnsberg for the job he did, but said moving on was important for the club.

“To have to do something like this is kind of tough, but at the same time we’re all trying to accomplish (things) and create an atmosphere and do what we can for these guys to be successful,” Mills said.

Brocail pitched for 15 seasons, including four in Houston, and has been working as a special assistant to Wade.

Brocail was in uniform for Tuesday night’s series opener against Pittsburgh, but wasn’t 100 percent sure he’d be keeping his new job.

“I haven’t really sat down with my wife to see what her feelings are,” said Brocail, who has five daughters. “When I get home tonight we’re going to have that conversation and I’ll be in and talk to the bosses tomorrow to let them know if they need to go shopping or if this is something that we all want to do.”

Houston ace Brett Myers, who credited Arnsberg for helping him turn things around last season, has struggled lately and his ERA has climbed to 5.03. He is 2-6 and has given up a team-leading 18 homers.

He called Arnsberg one of his best friends and a great pitching coach and wasn’t happy to see him go.

“I think it’s kind of unfair to the pitching staff a little bit, but like I said, the front office has to make decisions,” he said. “It’s not our decision and it’s not our call. So they have to make those decisions and it’s their job to do that. It’s not our job to sit here and complain about what’s unfair … for us. It’s something they felt needed to be done and it’s done.”

Lefty J.A. Happ is 3-8 with a 5.04 ERA and hasn’t won since May 14. Rookie Aneury Rodriguez went 0-4 with a 5.96 ERA in eight starts before being sent back to the bullpen when Wandy Rodriguez came off the disabled list last weekend.

Norris has been one of the bright spots of Houston’s rotation and is 4-4 with a 3.67 ERA entering Tuesday’s start against the Pirates. He turned in the Astros’ best pitching performance of the season when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last start.

Wandy Rodriguez pitched six scoreless innings in his return from the disabled list on Monday night and the Astros are hoping his return will be a boost to their rotation.

It isn’t only the starters who have had problems this season. Houston has seen three straight tough outings by former closer Brandon Lyon since he returned from the disabled list last week. He has given up a home run in each of his last three appearances and his ERA is 11.48.

“For me, I’m not pitching that great right now, but it has nothing to do with Arnie,” Lyon said. “He’s done a great job for me in the last year and a half. I know I need to pitch better. Somehow, sometime you feel like maybe if we were pitching better this wouldn’t have happened, but you never know.”

Brocail, who had two stints with the Astros, also pitched for the Padres, Tigers and Rangers. He retired after appearing in 20 games for the Astros in 2009.

Since his retirement, the 44-year-old has evaluated players in Houston’s system and handled some major league scouting assignments.

He met with his pitching staff before the game on Tuesday to deliver a key message.

“I think the main thing that I hit on was the fact that I’m not here to make a big change,” Brocail said. “I’m here because a guy is gone and I want to build on the success he brought to some of the kids.”

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