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 Rockies dismiss Hurdle; Tracy gets helm

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PostSubject: Rockies dismiss Hurdle; Tracy gets helm   Fri May 29, 2009 7:29 pm

Rockies dismiss Hurdle; Tracy gets helm
Colorado's poor start leads to end of eight-year run as skipper

By Thomas Harding / MLB.com

05/29/09 5:08 PM ET

DENVER -- The Rockies dismissed manager Clint Hurdle on Friday, and replaced him on an interim basis with bench coach Jim Tracy on Friday.

The last straw for the Rockies was being swept at home in a three-game series this week by the Dodgers, with the Rockies being outscored by a combined 31-13. At 18-28, the club is a season-worst 10 games below .500, last in the NL West, and trailing the first-place Dodgers by 14 games.

Hurdle, 51, went 534-625 (.461) as Rockies manager after taking over for Buddy Bell on April 26, 2002. His high point was leading the Rockies to the 2007 National League pennant before they were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

CLINT HURDLE'S RECORD

YEAR___REC.__PCT.__PLACE
2002___67-73__.479_____4
2003___74-88__.457_____4
2004___68-94__.420_____4
2005___67-95__.414_____5
2006___76-86__.469_____4
2007___90-73__.552_____2*
2008___74-88__.457_____3
2009___18-28__.391_____5
Totals_534-625_.461
* Won NL championship

"Obviously, this is a difficult day for us, and for me personally," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "Saying that, we understood the challenges in front of us. We understood this decision needed to be made.

"We're very fortunate to have someone of Jim Tracy's background, knowledge and character."

Tom Runnells, manager of the Rockies' Triple-A team in Colorado Springs, will take over Tracy's bench coach duties.

Tracy, 53, is in his 32nd season of professional baseball as a player, coach and manager. The Rockies hired him as bench coach amid a flurry of changes during the offseason. Tracy has managed the Dodgers (2001-05) and the Pirates (2006-07), going 562-572. Tracy led the Dodgers to the 2004 NL West crown with a 93-69 record. The Cardinals beat those Dodgers in the NL Division Series, three games to one.

Tracy came to Colorado along with hitting coach Don Baylor, third base coach Rich Dauer and bullpen coach Jim Wright in a flurry of coaching staff changes the Rockies made after faltering in 2008. Tracy and all of the Rockies' coaches have contracts that expire at the end of this season.

Tracy, who said that he would not have joined the Rockies had Hurdle not approached him last October, said the team's 2-7 record in one-run games is indicative of the fact it is talented, yet hasn't executed to winning standards.

"Am I sitting here saying to you that this is going to be a turnaround overnight?" Tracy said. "Maybe not. But I am going to do what I think has a chance to work."

Hurdle finished with one winning season. That was a doozy.

In 2007, the Rockies seemed headed once again for also-ran status, but they won 14 of their final 15 regular-season games. The last game was a 9-8, 13-inning victory over the Padres in a one-game showdown for the NL Wild Card. The Rockies swept the NL Division Series and Championship Series before being swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

But the Rockies didn't maintain that momentum in 2008. With injuries to several key players during the first two months, inconsistent pitching and poor performances with men in scoring position, they fell to 74-88 last year. An offseason of coaching changes has not paid off in 2009.

Hurdle has been with the Rockies since he was hired as Minor League hitting instructor in 1994. Baylor, who managed the club 1995-98, hired Hurdle as hitting coach in 1997. Hurdle also worked under Jim Leyland (1999) and Bell (2000-02) before being promoted to manager.

"It has been a tremendous ride, it has been life lesson after life lesson,:" Hurdle said. "I will tell you this, the last seven weeks -- I said this more times than the last seven years. That being said, I've never backed away from a challenge nor have I ever quit an opportunity."

The Rockies' press release said Hurdle, whose contract as manager runs through this season, has been offered a new position within the organization. Hurdle did not address the offer with the media, and declined to take question.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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