Wally Backman was hired yesterday as manager of the Diamondbacks, taking over a team coming off one of the worst seasons in major league history (51-111).

A former Mets second baseman with a reputation for intensity, Backman, 45, was selected minor league manager of the year this season by the Sporting News after leading Class A Lancaster to the best record in the California League. It was his first year in the Diamondbacks' organization.

* HUNSICKER QUITS: Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker resigned, less than two weeks after the team came within one win of reaching the World Series for the first time.

Tim Purpura, Hunsicker's assistant and the team's director of player development, will succeed him immediately. Hunsicker, 53, said he will remain with the Astros as an adviser through next season.

* FREE AGENTS GALORE: RHP Derek Lowe and C Jason Varitek led a parade of 10 Red Sox who filed for free agency, two days after they were honored in Boston following the team's first World Series title since 1918. SS Orlando Cabrera and backup C Doug Mirabelli also filed along with RHPs Curtis Leskanic, Ramiro Mendoza and Scott Williamson; LHP Mike Myers; 1B Dave McCarty and 2B Pokey Reese. . . .

The Devil Rays declined an option that would have paid 1B Tino Martinez $8 million in 2005, but said the decision does not eliminate the possibility of Martinez staying with his hometown team.

* WHITE SOX ADD RAINES: Tim Raines was hired by the White Sox as their first base and base-running coach.

-- From News Services