ATLANTA, JUNE 22 -- General Manager Bobby Cox was named manager of the Atlanta Braves today for the second time in less than 10 years, replacing fired Russ Nixon.

"I'm excited and I welcome the challenge," Cox said during a news conference. "But, obviously it is not a happy day for me.

"I called Russ this morning and told him it was not a good phone call. He knew what I meant. . . . He said he felt tremendous relief that it was all over. He had been under a lot of pressure the last few days."

There had been speculation for weeks that Nixon would be fired after the Braves lost 13 of their first 15 games. They are last in the NL West.

"There was a tremendous strain on Russ and the players," said Cox, who will serve as manager and general manager the rest of the season. Club president Stan Kasten said that after the season a decision would be made to have Cox "do one job or the other, not both."

"I wanted Russ to succeed, but obviously it hasn't worked out," said Cox.

Cox, in his fifth season as general manager, managed the Braves in 1978-81 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1982-85.

"I've been expecting it," Nixon said in a telephone interview from his home in Covington, Ga. "It's been evident the last two weeks. One of the bullets was going to get me, they've been shooting so many at me."

Kasten also said pitching coach Bruce Dal Canton and Leo Mazzone, pitching coach with the team's Richmond affiliate, will swap assignments.