© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/11/06 7:51 PM ET
Reds' Narron reaping fruits of his labor
Contract extension, ASG trip deserved honors for skipper
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Jerry Narron has been in the same situation twice, but his presence at PNC Park on a night when they celebrate the best in baseball suggests a potentially happier ending this time around.
Twice in his career, Narron has been hired as an interim manager in the middle of season, only to have the general manager who hired him get fired before his team ever got to Spring Training the next year.
In Texas, Doug Melvin was fired, John Hart was hired and Narron lasted just one more year. In Cincinnati, Dan O'Brien was fired and Wayne Krivsky was hired just before the start of Spring Training.
"Very few managers get put in the position of being named interim manager and then have a general manager fired," Narron said. "I've been in that situation twice, being an interim manager and then having a new general manager. I know how it works. I know it was important to play well, and we've done that."
Narron, manager of the second-place Cincinnati Reds, has been rewarded twice for that. He was given a two-year contract extension, a move that reflects how quickly he and Krivsky have established a strong working relationship.
"Wayne is a baseball guy," Narron said. "We are a lot alike. We're both grinders, we're both baseball guys, we've both put a lot of time in and we both have a passion for the game. We love it. We have pretty much the same philosophy. There's not a whole lot of phoney baloney between the two of us.
"I just think any organization has to have stability and continuity, and that hasn't been there for the Reds the last few years. With the extensions [including one for Krivsky], everybody will see what's going to be in place for the next few years, and I think it will give us a chance to win."
The other reward was being named as a coach for the National League All-Star team by Astros manager Phil Garner.
"I've admired Phil for a long time, but we've really never been together," Narron said. "I was shocked when he called and selected me. I hadn't even thought about the All-Star Game."
The honor was deserving. The Reds were one of the surprise teams of the first half and are in second place in the National League Central, four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
They also led the Wild Card race for much of the season before losing eight of nine to end the first half.
"We need to be much more consistent than we have been to have a chance," Narron said. "When we're pitching, hitting and playing defense, we can play with anybody. But when we have a breakdown in one area, it can get ugly.
"I'd like to see us be a better defensive club. We give other teams too many extra outs, and we can't do that. For us to get where we want to be, we have to be better defensively."
The Reds have also had bullpen issues, but Krivsky attempted to address that last week by acquiring veteran reliever Eddie Guardado from the Seattle Mariners.
"He's a veteran guy who has been in that spot before, [someone who] can just come in the ninth inning," Narron said. "We have not had anybody. David Weathers was the closest, but he was always a middle-inning, setup guy. Guardado is the first guy since I [became manager] last June who has been a closer before."
The Reds are hoping Guardado will get them turned around, and they'll be tested immediately after the All-Star break. They open a 10-game homestand against the Colorado Rockies, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers, and it could be a pivotal stretch.
"We need to play well at home," Narron said.
But first, he gets to enjoy the All-Star Game, and those who know him understand that he deserves to be here at a game that celebrates the best in the game.
"I was excited for him," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. "He has done a great job with the Reds. Guys love playing for Jerry. He played the game and knows what to expect out of players. I enjoyed playing for him, and I'm sure the Reds players feel the same way."