Cincinnati Reds General Manager Dick Williams called his franchise’s 3-15 start “very disappointing,” and it became apparent a change had to happen to get it back on track.
That led the firing of manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins on Thursday. The Reds announced the decision at 8:33 a.m. Williams and Jim Riggleman, who was named interim manager, spoke to reporters on a conference call at 11 a.m.
“We felt we had to act now and couldn’t afford to wait,” Williams said. “I know it seems early in the year to some people, and it certainly is early in the regular season, but we’ve been thinking of the 2018 season since the day the 2017 season ended, and we had all offseason to prepare. We were out in Arizona for six weeks. We feel we’re well into the 2018 season. We’ve had a lot of chances to observe this group together and see them get off to the kind of start we hoped, and it’s not there. We felt like now was the right time to do something about it.”
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The Reds, who own the worst record in baseball and are off to their worst start since 1931, are off Thursday and start a three-game series in St. Louis on Friday.
“We’re going to hit the ground running tomorrow with Jim in place and a couple new members of the staff,” Williams said. “We’re very focused on creating a sense of urgency for these guys to perform now. We talk about rebuilding, and there’s things going on away from the field and in the farm system and investments in the franchise that are part of that rebuilding process, but when guys show up to work every day, they need to have a sense of urgency to win that day. They need to take care of the details on the field. They need to play hard. They need to play smart. They need to play it right. That we can control, and we need to get this team playing that way because we know they have the ability to do it. That is the short-team immediate focus.”
The Reds will conduct a search for a permanent manager later in the year. For now, it’s Riggleman’s team. He will manage his fifth different team in the big leagues. His bench coach is Pat Kelly, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville, where he was managing the Bats, and his pitching coach is Danny Darwin, who was the pitching coach at Double-A Pensacola.
“It’s not the circumstances anybody wants to get the job under,” said Riggleman, who was Price’s bench coach for three seasons. “Bryan Price is a great man and great friend. I’m concerned about Bryan. The opportunity to manage, it’s something I love to do. I’ve always taken on that challenge with various clubs. It’s a passion for me. I look forward to it. But this is not the circumstances that you want it to happen in.”