06/03/2002 7:58 pm ET
Martinez relieved of duties
Carlos Tosca to take over for rest of season
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
TORONTO -- One day after winning his 100th game as a Major League manager, Buck Martinez lost his job. On Monday, the Blue Jays decided to make a change, replacing Martinez with Carlos Tosca, previously the team's third-base coach. Tosca, who managed more than 1,700 games in the minor leagues, will lead the team for the duration of the season.
"Anytime you have to part ways with someone you have a good relationship with, it's never pleasant," said JP Ricciardi, the general manager of the Blue Jays. "I felt it was time that the club had a change in direction. We feel Carlos will be able to get to those goals. We're excited that he was on board and able to take over at this point."
"Today's a difficult day," said Paul Godfrey, President and CEO of the Blue Jays. "The one thing that's without debate is that Buck Martinez is one of the nicest people in baseball. The decision today to go forward was made with the best interests of the club, and I support the move entirely."
In his only full season on the job, Martinez led the Jays to an 80-82 record in 2001. This year, his team was floundering with a 20-33 record. Reached on his cell phone, the ex-skipper, who spent 22 years with the Blue Jays as a player, broadcaster and manager, declined comment, saying that he would speak in a few days.
Admittedly, the team has been stricken by personnel moves, injuries and inconsistency, things that are beyond the manager's control. Ricciardi said that someone had to be held accountable, though, and that meant the man in charge.
"I don't see him as the fall guy. Anybody who takes the job as manager or coach knows the responsibility that goes with it," he said. "When you're the head of something, uneasy is the head that wears the crown."
That ancient proverb describes this situation perfectly. All season long, Martinez had to deal with rumors about his imminent dismissal. In early April, when Detroit manager Phil Garner was fired, Martinez came up with a comical quip.
"It looks like you guys lost the pool," he said to the local media.
Last week, after a six-game home losing streak, Ricciardi said that the managing situation would be evaluated on a week-to-week and series-to-series basis. Toronto swept three games from Detroit over the weekend, but it apparently wasn't enough to save the manager's job.
"I was honest. I was evaluating at that point, series-to-series," Ricciardi said. "I wasn't asked that question until we were headed to Detroit. If that question was asked in the six games prior to that, I would've said the same thing. The decision wasn't made based on a three-game winning streak or a six-game losing streak. The decision was based on a three-month period of being around Buck on a day-to-day basis. I don't think it was a knee-jerk reaction on my part."
Tosca, who becomes the ninth manager in Toronto history, was promoted because of his past experience with younger players. That history ranges from rookie ball all the way to Triple-A and includes a 932-827 managerial record in the minor leagues. He also spent three seasons as Buck Showalter's bench coach with the Arizona Diamondbacks before this two-month stint as Toronto's third-base coach.
He has no professional playing experience, but he's paid his dues over the last two decades. He said that this wasn't the way he wanted to become a manager, but realistically speaking, it was probably the only way it could happen.
"An opportunity for someone like me is probably going to come along in a situation like this," he said. "There's been a lot of managerial changes made in the last year or so, and I was not considered for any of those jobs. This is a good situation for me -- my strength is my ability to teach and my ability to make clear my expectations to the players."
Tosca, who was born in Cuba, went on to say that he has been described as confrontational. Having said that, he clarified exactly what he meant.
"I've raised three children," he said. "When they wanted to play in the street or play with fire, I had to stop them."
Now, he'll be dealing with grown men. Before his introductory press conference, Tosca addressed the team and went over what he expected. He didn't get into specifics about what he told them, but he did describe their initial reaction.
"They just listened. There really was no reaction," he said. "Basically, what I tried to do was just lay down some groundwork as to what I'm about, my philosophy. I'm going to meet with each individual player at some point in time, within the next week."
That's how Tosca's era began -- this is how Buck's ended. Ricciardi said that Martinez might have been disappointed, but that he more or less understood the situation.
"I don't think he was surprised. He wasn't angry at all," he said. "Like anybody who sees the way things are going, he understood something was coming. He handled it in a professional manner. He was very appreciative of the opportunity. He just kept his head up."
Spencer Fordin, who covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com, can be reached at
email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.