PITTSBURGH (AP) â€” Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy does not want Gene Lamont to be a scapegoat for the team's poor play, and he intends to keep him as manager.
``Gene Lamont will finish the season as the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates,'' McClatchy told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday. ``I sense that people might be waiting for something to happen and I thought it was important to clarify the situation.''
Since the team chose to not extend Lamont's contract beyond this year, there has been speculation he could be fired if the Pirates played poorly.
McClatchy predicted before the season that the Pirates were good enough to win 90 games. But the Pirates have won just 30 of their first 79 games, although they snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Expos 2-1 in Montreal on Tuesday night.
Although the team has been hurt by an injured and underachieving pitching staff and a lack of clutch hitting, Lamont's performance continued to be scrutinized, especially when he fired first and third base coaches Joe Jones and Jack Lind this month.
But McClatchy said he has ``come to the conclusion that it's not because of Gene Lamont that we're not playing well. I see a lot of people looking over their shoulders. But in actuality, they should be looking in the mirror.'' McClatchy didn't identify anyone.
Lamont said he was ``somewhat relieved'' by McClatchy's vote of confidence, but said he doesn't plan to make any changes.
``To say it doesn't hang over your head would be lying. I want to get the team turned around and playing like I know it can,'' Lamont told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. ``I hope it works out and I can be here a long time.''
Team leaders Jason Kendall and Brian Giles were happy to hear of McClatchy's decision.
``It takes a little tension off,'' Giles said. ``When you read and hear about somebody's job coming to an end, it's a distraction.''
``The bottom line is, Gene isn't the one out there swinging the bat, running the bases or pitching for us,'' Kendall said. ``It's not Gene's fault we're struggling.''