Fired by Astros, Cooper Becomes Fourth Manager to Go This Year

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Houston Astros, who failed to make any sort of serious run at the postseason this year, fired manager Cecil Cooper on Monday with 13 games left in the season.

Third base coach Dave Clark was named interim manager. The Astros were 70-79 after Sunday's loss to Milwaukee.

Cooper, 59, was hired on Aug. 27, 2007, to replace Phil Garner. Houston went 171-170 under Cooper, who was the bench coach under Garner between 2005-07.

Cooper became the fourth manager to get fired this season, all of them in the National League. Arizona dismissed Bob Melvin on May 7, Colorado replaced Clint Hurdle on May 29 and Washington fired Manny Acta on July 13.

Astros General Manager Ed Wade said making the move now will give the Astros a chance to evaluate "other facets of our operation" heading into the offseason. He said Clark would be considered a candidate during the search for a new manager.

"We're tasked with evaluating all aspects of our situation," Wade said. "At the end of the day, we're going to try to address those off-field issues that exist. We're not walking away from it. The issue we had to address here, in the short term, was the managerial issue and that's why we moved forward today."

Cooper did not answer calls to his cellphone.

Cooper's initial contract ran through the 2009 season and the Astros picked up his option for 2010. Houston won 86 games in 2008, a 14-game turnaround from 2007. But this season, the Astros are guaranteed their second losing record in three seasons and only the third since 1991.

Cooper was a first-time major league manager and the first black manager in Astros history. He played 11 seasons for the Brewers and his hiring as Houston's manager got the personal blessing of Commissioner Bud Selig, who owned the Brewers from 1977-87.

Houston scored only 15 runs during a seven-game road trip last week, losing every game.

-- GIANTS: A top prospect for the team has been charged with murder in the death of a 25-year-old man last weekend at a bar in the Dominican Republic.

Angel Villalona, who was signed by the Giants in 2006 and received a club-record $2.1 million bonus, wore a bulletproof vest Monday to his hearing at a court in the city of La Romana, where the shooting took place. He pleaded innocent to the murder charge. . . .

Giants 2B Freddie Sanchez left Monday night's game against Arizona in the first inning with an injury to his left leg. He was helped off the field immediately after Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks hit a two-run home run.

Sanchez may have been hurt on the previous play when Justin Upton flied out to center field. The extent of the injury wasn't known.

-- TWINS: CF Denard Span was hit in the helmet by a pitch from White Sox reliever Randy Williams in the sixth inning Monday night and had to leave the game. The team said Span had a slight headache and was taken out for precautionary reasons.

-- From News Services

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