Fredi Gonzalez was fired Wednesday as manager of the Florida Marlins, whose search for a full-time successor began with a phone call to Bobby Valentine.
Gonzalez was dismissed with Florida at 34-36 and in fourth place in the National League East, 71/2 games behind first-place Atlanta.
“This team seems to be stuck in neutral, and our competitors are on the accelerator,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said, hours before the Marlins were to face the Orioles. “We were looking for a leadership change to hopefully get us on the accelerator. That’s a big part of what we did today.”
Edwin Rodriguez, who has spent the past 11/2 seasons as manager of Triple-A New Orleans, took over as interim manager.
Also fired were bench coach Carlos Tosca and hitting coach Jim Presley. They were replaced on an interim basis by Brandon Hyde and John Mallee.
“We owe it to our fans to put this team in the best possible position to win,” owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement. “Everyone knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.”
Gonzalez is the third manager to lose his job this season. He follows Trey Hillman at Kansas City and Dave Trembley at Baltimore.
Immediately after firing Gonzalez, the Marlins began searching for his successor.
“Bobby Valentine is a candidate for this position. He was spoken to by me today,” club president David Samson said. “I told him Fredi had been dismissed, and that we were interested in speaking with him in the very near future about our opening.”
Valentine currently is working for ESPN. Earlier this month he was interviewed by Baltimore, but on Wednesday he withdrew his name as a candidate for that job, Orioles president of baseball operation Andy MacPhail said.
MacPhail, meanwhile, met with Buck Showalter to discuss the team’s managerial job. Showalter, 54, is also a baseball analyst for ESPN. He has managed the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
The Arizona Diamondbacks will retire Luis Gonzalez’s No. 20, the first player to be so honored in the franchise’s 13-year history. Gonzalez, who played eight seasons for Arizona, is the franchise leader in virtually every offensive category, including games (1,194), hits (1,337), home runs (224) and RBIs (774). … Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Zach Duke was placed on the 15-day disabled list after a scheduled bullpen session was canceled because of his sore left elbow. An MRI showed no structural damage in the elbow, but Duke is expected to miss at least two more starts. … Houston rookie shortstop Tommy Manzella has a fractured index finger, suffered Monday against the Giants, and will miss about six weeks. … Boston Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland is making progress in his return from brain surgery in March, and his father says he’s now able to do some throwing and running.