After just four days on the job, Wally Backman was fired yesterday as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks because of two arrests and financial problems he kept from the team.

The Diamondbacks replaced Backman with former Seattle Mariners manager Bob Melvin.

Before hiring Backman, the Diamondbacks didn't do any criminal or financial checks and were unaware of his problems until they were reported Tuesday in the New York Times.

"It's obviously a mistake on our part to have made a decision without having done the proper background work that could have been done, should have been done," Kendrick said.

Backman was arrested in 2001 after a fight at his home involving his wife and one of her friends in Prineville, Ore. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. Backman was also arrested, and later convicted, on a driving under the influence charge in Kennewick, Wash., in 2000.

Free Agents

The Chicago Cubs convinced a shortstop to re-sign. Nope, not Nomar Garciaparra.

Neifi Perez agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract rather than become a free agent. While Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry already started talks with Garciaparra's agent, the five-time all-star wants to explore the free agent market.

Rather than allow Ugueth Urbina to become a free agent, the Detroit Tigers exercised the closer's $4 million option. Signed as a free agent on March 29, Urbina was 4-6 with a 4.50 ERA and 21 saves in his first season with Detroit.

St. Louis exercised a $2 million option on right-hander Chris Carpenter, who had filed provisionally for free agency earlier in the week. The 29-year-old right-hander went a career-best 15-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 28 starts.

Jon Lieber's $8 million option was declined by the New York Yankees. Lieber will receive a $250,00 buyout.

Mets left-hander Al Leiter filed provisionally. New York has until Nov. 15 to exercise a $10 million option or elect to pay a $2 million buyout. Berkman, Baldelli Ailing

Houston Astros outfielder Lance Berkman may miss the start of next season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing flag football. . . .

Tampa Bay Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli had surgery yesterday to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.

Bob Melvin talks to reporters after he was introduced as the Arizona Diamondbacks' new manager.