Athletics hire Geren as manager

Thursday, November 16th 2006, 9:56 pm

By: News On 6

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bob Geren will be promoted from bench coach to manager of the Oakland Athletics, according to a high-ranking baseball official.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the team won't introduce Geren as its new manager until Friday. He fills the final managerial vacancy in the major leagues this offseason, one month after the A's fired Ken Macha.

General manager Billy Beane went with the most experience and the familiar face, his longtime friend and former high school baseball opponent in San Diego.

A's closer Huston Street said he heard Thursday from Geren, who told the pitcher he got the job.

"I'm really excited," said Street, the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year. "He's already called me and we've spoken a little bit. I spent my first full year in the big leagues with him in the
bullpen. He was the first professional coach I got a feel for and got to understand. What he brings is someone dedicated to the team and dedicated to his players. He's got a good feel for the team and that's a real positive for all of us."

Of the three finalists, a list that also included Colorado Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk and ESPN baseball analyst and former Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser, only Geren had any managerial experience. He was the first to interview for the job on Oct. 30.

Beane and assistant GM David Forst both were traveling Thursday night and not immediately available for comment. Messages left for Geren weren't immediately returned.

Geren, a catcher for five seasons with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres, spent the 2006 season as bench coach in Oakland after three seasons as bullpen coach in his first stint on a major league coaching staff.

"I think it helped him quite a bit," Beane said Tuesday in his first and only public comments about the search. "But until you sit in that chair, the only preparation is really doing it."

Geren joined the A's organization in 1999 as manager of Class-A Modesto, then spent the next three seasons managing at Triple-A Sacramento. He also has managed in the Dominican Winter League and managed during three of his five seasons in the Red Sox
organization from 1994-98. He has a 452-390 record in seven seasons as a minor league manager.

A's center fielder Mark Kotsay also received a call from Geren on Thursday with the news -- exactly the kind of communication players appreciate, Kotsay said.

"Bob seems to be a good communicator and he probably reached out to everybody on the club and let them know he's the manager of the Oakland A's and is looking forward to managing us," Kotsay said in a phone interview. "Obviously he's very familiar with the
team. He's familiar with the staff. His experience over the last couple of years as bullpen coach and bench coach will help him be a great manager for our ballclub."

The 45-year-old Geren, the best man in Beane's second wedding, had to at least have some confidence in his status with the organization: He bought a house in the Bay Area this year.

Neither Beane nor Geren wanted this to be about their friendship but rather strictly about business, though they believe that having an understanding and a trust certainly won't hurt.

Geren said his credentials should speak to his ability. Beane has long considered Geren managing material -- interviewing him last year when the club briefly parted ways with Macha before re-signing him about a week later.

Geren thought working as bench coach for a season benefited him because he could see what worked and what things he might have done differently in the top job.

"There were a lot of potential candidates and a lot of people deserving of the job," Street said. "Billy's going to do what's best for the organization. I really wasn't worried about who the manager would be. We trust Billy and his decision making. I think he made the right move.

"Bob is going to bring lot of positives to the table and a lot of baseball knowledge. He's been in the game for a long time and managed at a lot of levels. He's been in some big games as a manager."

Macha was fired after four seasons on Oct. 16, two days after Oakland was swept by the wild-card Detroit Tigers in the AL championship series. The A's won a playoff series for the first time since 1990, ending a string of four straight first-round exits from 2000-03.

Quirk played the final three of his 18 major league seasons for Oakland, and Beane had said any of the candidates would have been great hires for the small-market A's.

Beane took his time in the process and watched three candidates leave for managerial jobs elsewhere: Longtime A's third-base coach Ron Washington went to Texas, Angels pitching coach Bud Black became skipper in San Diego, and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta was hired this week as manager of the Washington Nationals.

Geren batted .233 in 307 major league games.

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