DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Tigers named Luis Pujols manager for the rest of the season and fired two coaches yesterday, one day after firing manager Phil Garner and general manager Randy Smith.
Detroit also offered former Montreal manager Felipe Alou a three-year deal to spend at least one year as Pujols’ bench coach, with an option to be a special assistant for two years.
New club president Dave Dombrowski, who assumed general manager duties on Monday, has orchestrated the two-day shake-up in the hopes of reviving a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since 1993 and opened the season with six straight losses.
Alou, who was fired last season, worked with both Pujols and Dombrowski in Montreal. Dombrowski was an Expos executive from 1986-91, one year before Alou was promoted to manager.
“It would take a book to describe everything I’ve learned from Felipe,” said Pujols, who was on Alou’s staff from 1993-2000. “I just finished talking to him, and he’s still 50-50. I hope it works out for him, and the organization, but he’s older and smarter than me. So, he’s got to make the choice.”
The 66-year-old Alou, reached at his Florida home last night, said he’s considering the offer.
“It’s 50-50,” he said. “I’m a man that spent 29 years with one organization in Montreal, so loyalty and commitment mean a lot to me. I was offered the manager’s position in Boston, but that was for only one year.
“Detroit is offering me a three-year offer, but Luis has just a one-year contract, so it is kind of a paradox for me. And it puts me in an uncomfortable and unique position because there may be no better place for me than Detroit.
“Luis is my friend, that is almost like a son. And I’ve known the GM since we rode buses together in the minor leagues. I just don’t know what I want to do, and I don’t know when I will decide what I’m going to do.”
Pujols was named interim manager on Monday afternoon and had a long phone interview with Dombrowski after the Tigers-White Sox game was postponed due to rain.
Pujols is Detroit’s fourth manager since Sparky Anderson’s 17-season tenure ended in 1995. The Dominican Republic native is the Tigers’ first minority manager.
“We had talked about managers, and we had some names, but we felt that the person that gave us the best opportunity to win, was Luis,” Dombrowski said. “He knows the players, and he has the best knowledge of our organization.”
Pujols spent last season, his first in the Tigers’ organization, as manager at Double-A Erie following his stint in Montreal. The 46-year-old was a major-league catcher in Houston (1977-83) – with Garner as a teammate – Kansas City (1984) and Texas (1985).
“I think I’m prepared for the challenge,” Pujols said. “I’ve spent a lot of years in baseball, and I managed in Double-A last year. I know that’s not the majors, but with all my years in the game, I think I’m ready.”
Pitcher Nate Cornejo, who played for Pujols in Erie last season, agreed.
“I think everybody will be really happy with Luis, as long as he is here, and I think he’ll do a good job,” Cornejo said. “He’s just a players’ manager, everybody likes him. He’s relaxed, he brings a little comedy and he’s kind of a funny guy. And he’s also a great baseball guy.”
Dombrowski, who joined the Tigers in November after serving as a Florida Marlins’ executive from 1991-2001, fired pitching coach Dan Warthen and third base coach Doug Mansolino yesterday as part of a major shake-up on the coaching staff.
Steve McCatty was promoted to pitching coach from a similar position at Double-A Erie. Juan Samuel, who was Detroit’s first base coach, shifts to third, and hitting coach Merv Rettenmund kept his job.
Rafael Landestoy is the new first base coach, after working with the organization as a roving infield instructor. Jeff Jones is now the bullpen coach, after being the Triple-A Toledo pitching coach.
On Monday, Dombrowski also fired bullpen coach Ed Ott and special assistant Randy Johnson.
After an 0-6 start, the dismissal of Garner tied the quickest firing of a manager who started the season since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Baltimore fired Cal Ripken Sr. in 1988 after the Orioles lost six games en route to an 0-21 start.

Paul Wong
AP PHOTO
Luis Pujols (center), who replaced Phil Garner on Monday, will manage the Tigers for the remainder of the season. Detroit continued its shake-up yesterday, firing its pitching and first base coaches.

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