Mike Ferraro, a successful former minor league manager with a reputation for stressing fundamentals, yesterday was hired to run the Cleveland Indians.

Ferraro, 38, coach for the New York Yankees the last four years, received a two-year contract for his first major league managing job. He replaces Dave Garcia, who was not rehired when this season ended.

The Indians, who tied for last place with the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, have not been a contender since 1959.

The former major league infielder, who said he's "very happy and excited about being manager" of the Indians, played with the Yankees, Seattle Pilots and Milwaukee Brewers before becoming a 331-221 minor league manager. He got Oneonta to a New York-Penn League pennant in 1974, West Haven to the Eastern League title in 1977 and Tacoma to the Pacific Coast League championship in 1978 . . .

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Jason Thompson, saying it was "one of the happiest days of my career," signed a five-year contract, reportedly worth more than $1 million a year. Thompson, 28, who has seven major league seasons and a .266 batting average, called it a "very generous" offer from the financially strapped Pirates. Last season, the left-hander hit .284, with 31 homers and 101 RBI.