Bill Plummer became manager of the Seattle Mariners yesterday, a selection owner Jeff Smulyan said would show the franchise is seriously trying to improve after its first winning season.
He called Plummer "the guy for this job."
"Hopefully, this sends a message that we're serious about taking this thing to another level," Smulyan said during a news conference at the Kingdome. "We didn't feel that managing in the major leagues was the most critical criteria. As a matter of fact, we felt in many ways, it might be a liability."
Plummer, the Mariners' third-base coach, replaced the fired Jim Lefebvre and agreed to a two-year deal worth about $300,000 a year.
Plummer, 44, is the Mariners' 10th manager in 15 years. He has no major-league managerial experience but managed seven years in the team's minor-league system and is considered to be popular with the players.
"There's been a lot of recycling of major-league managers," Smulyan said. "We wanted some fresh ideas."
TTC "It's very nice to be able to have an organization where you can look within your system and say, 'Here's a man who deserves a chance,' " general manager Woody Woodward said. "Bill's proven he can manage in the minor leagues, so let's see what he can do in the big leagues."
Lefebvre was fired by Woodward after guiding the club to an 83-79 record, Seattle's first winning year in 15 seasons in the American League.
Although the Mariners and Lefebvre declined to say why he was fired, Lefebvre reportedly didn't get along with Woodward, the GM since 1988.
"I would not try to make comparisons," Woodward said. "But what we like about Bill is something we've seen through the years, his ability to relate to his players and the ability to take whatever type ballclub he is given and get the most out of it."
Plummer is a former major-league catcher who was the backup to Hall of Famer Johnny Bench with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s. Plummer was a member of the Big Red Machine's 1975 and 1976 World Series championship clubs.
He was noted for being a premier defensive catcher with a strong arm, but hit only .188 in 367 games over 10 seasons.
"This is great news," All-Star center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "He has the respect of the players already. I don't know of a guy on this team who wouldn't want to play for him."
* BRAVES: Third baseman Terry Pendleton will undergo surgery today to remove bone chips from his left knee.
Pendleton, who led the NL in batting average at .319, had been bothered by the knee late in the season, and hit only .167 in the playoffs against the Pirates. However, he hit .367 in the World Series, which the Twins won in seven games.
* TWINS: Catcher Brian Harper said the club has not made him an offer for 1992 and he will consider filing for free agency.
One of the best hitting catchers in the majors in 1991 with a .311 average, Harper made only $687,500.
He said he didn't know what kind of offer to expect.
* PIRATES: The team's three-month search for a chief executive will end today when former Cardinals executive Mark Sauer, 45, is named president.
Sauer will succeed Carl Barger, who resigned in July to become president of the expansion Florida Marlins.
* The nation's No. 1 baseball fan made a date to meet the Twins at the White House tomorrow.
President Bush, whose son is a part owner of the rival Rangers, will greet the team in a Rose Garden ceremony, the White House said.
1991 managerial firings
A7Date.. .. Manager .. .. ..Team.. .. .. .. Replacement
April 23. Nick Leyva .. ..Philadelphia .. Jim Fregosi
May 21 .. Don Zimmer .. ..Chicago Cubs .. Jim Essian
May 22 .. John Wathan.. ..Kansas City. .. Hal McRae
May 23 .. Frank Robinson..Baltimore .. .. John Oates
June 3 .. Buck Rodgers. ..Montreal. .. .. Tom Runnells
July 6 .. John McNamara ..Cleveland .. .. Mike Hargrove
Aug. 26.. Doug Rader .. ..California.. .. Buck Rodgers
Sept. 28. Bud Harrelson ..New York Mets.. Jeff Torborg
Oct. 7.. Stump Merrill. ..New York Yankees Buck Showalter
Oct. 8.. Joe Morgan. .. ..Boston .. .. .. Butch Hobson
Oct. 9.. Tom Trebelhorn ..Milwaukee
Oct. 10. Jim Lefebvre.. ..Seattle.. .. .. Bill Plummer
Oct. 18. Jim Essian. .. ..Chicago Cubs