The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t have found a manager more experienced with the “interim” title than Jim Riggleman.
Bryan Price’s replacement first had the tag in 1992 when he took over for San Diego Padres manager Greg Riddoch for the last 12 games of the 1992 season. In 2008, the Seattle Mariners fired John McLaren after 72 games, and Riggleman coached the team the rest of the season. In 2009, with the Washington Nationals, Riggleman coached the last 75 games after the firing of Manny Acta.
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In two of those three situations, with San Diego and Washington, Riggleman had the interim tag removed and coached two more seasons. For now, as he prepares to start his tenure as interim manager of the Reds in a three-game series in St. Louis, Riggleman is just focused on winning games. The Reds fired Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins on Thursday after a 3-15 start, the worst for the franchise since 1931.
“We feel we have talent out there,” said Riggleman, who has a career record of 662-824 in 12 seasons as a manager. “Just keep expressing to the coaches and players we’re going to get this thing turned around. Be positive and see if we can focus on details. I’m not specifically a pitching person. I’m certainly not a hitting coach. I will just try to stress the details of the game, which is the message Bryan was trying to (send). That’s what we were trying to get across. We’ve just got to find a way with the coaches and myself to put an exclamation point on the details of the game. The hitting and the pitching are the two biggest areas of the game. They have to take care of themselves, but we as coaches and managers can try to pick up a win here and there with some things we stress.”
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Riggleman, 65, was in his third year as Price’s bench coach. He said the responsibility for the poor start falls on all of the coaches, including himself.
“(The firing) kind of signifies we weren’t getting it done,” Riggleman said. “Let’s now move on. I have to be the voice the players will be hearing from. I just look forward to moving forward.”
General Manager Dick Williams, who’s in his second season, also took the blame. He called it an “organizational disappointment.”
“Certainly, nobody here feels Bryan or Mack is the scapegoat for what happened,” Williams said. “That is the first step in making this right and trying our best to fix things. I think the players, the coaches, the front office, we all have to look into our performance, look at our mistakes, learn from them, get better. I certainly accept responsibility for the mistakes that have been made in the front office that haven’t worked. I think the coaches need look at themselves and see what they can do to get more out of these players, and the players need to look at themselves. We all take ownership in this.”
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Riggleman wasn’t the only Reds coach to move into a new position. Triple-A manager Pat Kelly joined the Reds as bench coach after managing the Triple-A Louisville Bats. Danny Darwin is the new pitching coach after serving as manager at Double-A Pensacola.
Hitting coach Don Long remains with the Reds, and there were no other changes to the staff. Williams wanted a new voice on the pitching side because so much of the rebuilding effort has been focused there.
“There was a balance between keeping some continuity with the existing staff and making some changes so we could have some new voices be heard,” Williams said.
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Meanwhile, the season moves ahead with the Reds trying to return to respectability. They return to Cincinnati on Monday for a four-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
“I think they will welcome the opportunity to show people this start was an aberration,” Williams said. “If I’m them, I want to get out there and keep playing and start having some games fall our way and show people we’re a better team than this early-season record.”