Chicago Cubs fire Don Baylor

Friday, July 5th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ The Cubs fired manager Don Baylor on Friday and promoted Bruce Kimm from Triple-A Iowa as interim manager, team spokesman Jesse Navarro said.

Also, assistant general manager Jim Hendry is being promoted to general manager.

The Cubs lost to the Braves 5-1 Thursday to fall to 34-49, 12 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.

Baylor's job had been the subject of intense speculation recently in Chicago. The team had been expected to contend for a pennant, but many of its veteran players are having a poor season.

Baylor didn't survive his third year as manager after the Cubs staggered out of spring training and played listless baseball.

By adding Moises Alou to bat behind Sammy Sosa and Fred McGriff, the Cubs believed they had strengthened their offense and created one of the most potent lineups in the NL.

McGriff and Alou struggled, and the Cubs had trouble scoring runs.

Pitcher Kerry Wood blasted his teammates early in the season, saying they were flat and playing as if they were 15 games under .500 in August. Baylor followed Wood's comments with a closed-door team meeting, airing out the frustrations stemming from the lethargic play.

Chicago won 88 games in 2001 and led the NL Central most of the way until the final month. Houston and St. Louis tied for the division title with records of 93-69. The Astros won the division, the Cardinals got the wild card.

Baylor had a run-in with Sosa during his first season when the Cubs won just 65 games, but the two patched up their differences.

At the end of last year, Baylor infuriated his pitching staff when pitching coach Oscar Acosta was forced to resign because of a personality conflict with the manager.

Opinionated and honest, Baylor couldn't provide the spark that the so-called ``Lovable Losers'' needed.

Baylor, the 1979 American League MVP, holds the major league record for number of times being hit by a pitch _ 267.

Baylor was with the Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and the Oakland A's in 1988. All three teams made the World Series.

After a stint as a hitting coach with the Brewers and Cardinals, Baylor became manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies in 1993.

When the Rockies went 77-67 two years later and made the postseason as a wild card, Baylor was named manager of the year.

Baylor's relationship with Rockies GM Bob Gebhard deteriorated and after a 77-85 season in 1998, Baylor was fired in Denver.

He went to Atlanta as hitting coach the following season.

And after the Cubs fired Jim Riggleman, Cubs president Andy MacPhail selected Baylor to try to do something that few have been able to over the years _ make the Cubs winners.

The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and haven't reached the Series since 1945. Chicago hasn't had consecutive winning seasons in 30 years.