Blue Jays part ways with Tosca

Posted: Monday, August 09, 2004

NEW YORK Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi had seen enough.

With the listless Blue Jays mired in last place in the AL East, Ricciardi fired manager Carlos Tosca on Sunday and promoted first-base coach John Gibbons to interim manager for the rest of the season.

''We may have been starting to mail it in a little bit,'' Ricciardi said.

Tosca was fired after the Blue Jays dropped their fifth straight game, an 8-2 loss to the New York Yankees. Toronto is 47-64, a season-high 17 games under .500 and 24 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees.

''We have six or seven weeks left in the season and the team showed signs of not playing hard,'' Ricciardi said. ''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.

''Carlos has been in the game a long time and he knows how it works.''

Tosca was in trouble when the Blue Jays started the season in reverse and his fate was sealed by an expanding disabled list that robbed him of Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, slugger Carlos Delgado and regulars Vernon Wells and Frank Catalanotto for long stretches.

Coming off six consecutive third-place finishes in the AL East, the Blue Jays added Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista, Pat Hentgen and reliever Kerry Ligtenberg to the pitching staff in the offseason and hoped to contend for a playoff spot.

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.

''We had expectations of building off what we did last year,'' Ricciardi said. ''We won 86 games last year and we had six weeks of spring training to get ready. We got off to a poor start. We were 8-18 and we dug a hole for ourselves. We never really recovered from that.''

What's worse is Toronto was playing listless, almost disinterested baseball.

''I would think a majority of the time when players look lethargic it's because a lot of pitches are being thrown and the tempo of the game is low,'' Tosca said.

''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. One thing I've always prided myself on is that the players have given a good effort.''

Ricciardi promoted Tosca to the manager's office on June 3, 2002, making him just the fifth Cuban native to manage in the major leagues. He had been the team's third-base coach and became the sixth major league manager without playing experience. In just over two years, the team compiled a 189-191 record under Tosca's stewardship.

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