NEW YORK (AP) - Toronto Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca was fired Sunday and replaced by first-base coach John Gibbons. Struggling through a
disappointing season, the Blue Jays fired Tosca less than an hour after they were beaten by the New York Yankees for their fifth straight loss.
Gibbons will be the interim manager for the rest of the season.
"We have six or seven weeks left in the season and the team showed signs of not playing hard," said general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who hired Tosca on
June 3, 2002. "We have an obligation to try and do as well as we can. It wasn't an easy decision. It never is when you have to tell someone who does
what he loves that it's being taken away from him."
Tosca is the third major league manager to be fired this season, following Houston's Jimy Williams and Arizona's Bob Brenly. Coming off their sixth
consecutive third-place finish in the AL East, the Blue Jays added Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, Pat Hentgen and reliever Kerry Ligtenberg to the
pitching staff last offseason and hoped to contend for a playoff spot.
But they got off to a slow start, losing five of their first six games and 18 of 26. A string of injuries depleted the roster — AL Cy Young Award
winner Roy Halladay was on the disabled list for two long stretches because of a bad shoulder and first baseman Carlos Delgado missed 33 games with a
Hentgen struggled mightily and has since retired. Ligtenberg, Justin Speier and the rest of bullpen failed time and again, and last season's powerful
offense fell off dramatically. Toronto slipped into last place in the division, and Ricciardi said he saw an air of resignation in the Blue Jays'
"We may have been starting to mail it in a little bit," he said.
Tosca was told of the decision after an 8-2 loss to the Yankees dropped the Blue Jays to 47-64, a season-high 17 games under .500 and 24.50 games
behind first-place New York. Toronto is 18-37 on the road and in the middle of a seven-day, seven-game trip.
"The team seems to have hit the skids and we had to do something," team president and CEO Paul Godfrey said.
Tosca's contract was up after this season. He said he hoped the Blue Jays would turn things around.
"We've been accustomed to playing our best ball at the end of the year and this year we're not going to get an opportunity to do that," he said. "One
thing I've always prided myself on is that the players have given a good effort."
Tosca said he hoped to stay in baseball and would wait until the end of the season to seek other opportunities.
"I know baseball is what I do for a living," he said. "It's in my blood and I will be looking for another opportunity to carry that through."
Tosca, 50, was the fifth native of Cuba to manage in the major leagues. He had been the team's third-base coach before becoming the sixth major league
manager without any playing experience. He finished with a 189-191 record in a little more than two seasons.
Gibbons, 41, is a former catcher who spent seven seasons managing in the New York Mets' organization. He is in his third season with Toronto, serving
first as the team's bullpen coach before moving to first base. He played in just 18 big league games for the Mets after they picked him in the first
round of the 1980 draft.
The Blue Jays were shut out by the Yankees on Saturday, the ninth time Toronto has been held scoreless this season. In the opening game of the series,
Toronto lost 11-4, the 11th time the pitching staff allowed 11 or more runs in a game.