07/11/2002 3:43 pm ET
Manuel out as Indians manager
Skinner named to interim post
By Justice B. Hill / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Manager Charlie Manuel wanted a long-term commitment from the Indians, but general manager Mark Shapiro wasn't
prepared to give Manuel that commitment.
Manuel's wish cost him his job Thursday.
As he told Shapiro in a meeting on Wednesday, either he was the man for tomorrow or he wasn't. Manuel didn't offer any middle
ground, standing firm in his demand for a clear commitment for the future.
"Charlie felt strongly that now was the time to make a long-term commitment to him going forward," said Shapiro during a news conference in which he announced that third base coach Joel Skinner would serve as interim manager. "In [Manuel's] words, to state that
he was 'my guy.' I wasn't ready to make that commitment to Charlie."
Shapiro said he and the 58-year-old Manuel, a fixture in the Indians organization since 1988, had talked about opportunities that were down
the road. Shapiro had discussed with Manuel how best he could help in reshaping the Indians into a contender.
"I felt very strongly that I wanted him to be our manager for the rest of the year, and that I wanted to consider him to be our long-term
manager," Shapiro said. "But he told me, 'Now is the time.' He wasn't gonna wait."
Shapiro said he had asked Wednesday for Manuel to revisit his stance, but when the two men met Thursday morning, Manuel's position
remained steadfast: He didn't want to wait for a decision on his future.
With the team's future in a full-fledged rebuild, Shapiro said he had to sort through some things before he could commit to Manuel.
In his news conference, Shapiro told reporters that too many questions remained unanswered for the 2002 season, which after an 11-1
start has turned dramatically in the other direction.
He felt it best to redefine Manuel's role for the rest of the year but not to expand it without further review.
While the removal of Manuel had long been rumored, Shapiro said he was prepared Wednesday and even Thursday to keep Manuel
aboard until at least season's end. Shapiro said he had called in owner Larry Dolan to get Manuel to reconsider his demand.
Dolan couldn't sway Manuel, who was unavailable for comment.
In two-plus seasons as Indians manager, Manuel had posted a 220-190 record (.537), and led the Indians into the AL playoffs last season.
His record this season was 39-47, which left the Tribe a disappointing 9½ games out of first place. His contract was due to expire at
the end of the season.
Before the All-Star break, Manuel had told reporters that he planned to get some sense from Shapiro what the team's commitment to him
might be beyond this season.
Manuel was unable to secure such a commitment, and he refused, Shapiro said, to change his mind about it. That refusal left Shapiro, in
his first season as Tribe GM, in the awkward position of having to remove a loyal company man.
"I threw some alternatives out there to guarantee him some other positions in the organization should the managerial job not be offered to
him," Shapiro said. "Charlie was very firm -- and, as you guys know, stubborn. ... In the end, I felt forced to make this decision. There was no
In replacing Manuel, the Indians become the third AL Central team (Kansas City and Detroit were the others) to replace its manager since
the start of the season.
Naming Skinner to run the club leaves an opening on the Indians coaching staff.
Skinner, a former big-league catcher, said he would not continue to serve as third base coach, instead moving bench coach Jeff Datz into
that role for the short term.
While he has no experience in managing in the Majors, Skinner, 41, had a successful record as a minor league skipper. From 1995-2000,
he posted a 448-333 record (.574). He was named 2000 Minor League Manager of the Year at Triple-A Buffalo.
"From now until the end of the season, Joel will serve in all managerial duties in a full capacity as manager," Shapiro said. "At the end of
the season, we'll examine Joel and any other alternatives that might be our permanent manager going forward."
Justice B. Hill covers the Indians for MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.