MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jerry Royster knew he was out as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers after last week's front office shakeup.
The official firing came Wednesday and made Royster the sixth major league manager to lose his job in the last four days.
Doug Melvin replaced Dean Taylor as Brewers general manager last week as part of the changes that also saw Wendy Selig-Prieb step down as team president.
''I don't have any problem with what Doug's doing, I think it's the right thing to do,'' Royster said. ''A general manager has to hire his own guy. If I were Doug, I'd fire me, too.''
Melvin said his search for a replacement would begin with Jerry Narron, who was fired by the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, and Buck Showalter, former manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that he wanted to include a wide array of candidates, both with and without previous managerial experience.
The Brewers had the NL's worst record at 56-106 and easily surpassed their worst mark of 64-98, set in 1969 when they were the Seattle Pilots. The Brewers finished 41 games behind the Central Division-winning St. Louis Cardinals.
Yet, Royster said he felt he would have had a decent shot at sticking around in 2003 were it not for the changes made last week.
''I would hope that with Wendy and Dean, I would have been retained,'' Royster said. ''Not only do I hope I would have, I deserved it. I took over a situation that was an absolute mess.''
Milwaukee went 53-94 under Royster, who became interim manager when Davey Lopes was fired on April 18 following a 3-12 start.
Royster said he did everything he could to make the Brewers competitive, including turning them loose on the bases because their station-to-station approach wasn't working.
All that did, however, was lead to ugly outs on the bases and mounting fan frustration. Attendance at Miller Park plummeted by 841,000 to just under 2 million.
''I didn't have enough to work with,'' Royster said Wednesday from his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. ''We were injured. The players that we had were not enough to do much more than what we did. So we tried to be as entertaining as we possibly could.''
Royster said he didn't want to belittle his players.
''Do I think they played hard? Yeah, they played very hard. That wasn't an issue,'' he said. ''It's just that we were short. We got beat, we got beat often and I was fired.''
Besides Royster and Narron, the managers dismissed since Sunday are Bruce Kimm of the Chicago Cubs, Luis Pujols of Detroit, Hal McRae of Tampa Bay and Bobby Valentine of the New York Mets.
Royster often said the only reason Lopes, his best friend and mentor, lost his job was because the Brewers didn't hit for him. But they didn't hit for Royster, either, finishing with a .253 average.
Royster said he hopes to manage again, and Melvin wished him luck.
''I told him to look at it not as a failure but as an experience,'' Melvin said. ''I hope he does get another chance. Managers are the ones that lose the job but they're not always the ones that are totally at fault.''
Melvin said he will look for a disciplinarian and teacher in his search. Although he worked with Narron in Texas, Melvin refused to call him the leading candidate.
''I'm very fond of Jerry. We have a relationship I know would work well,'' Melvin said. ''I would say Jerry's a candidate. I talked to him last night. I said, 'I'll probably be in touch with you.'
''But I owe it to the organization and I owe it to myself to be in touch with other people, too.''
Melvin played in the minor leagues with Showalter.
''I've got a call into Buck,'' he said.
Melvin said he considered retaining Royster but felt he had to provide a clean slate coming off the franchise's first 100-loss season.
He said Royster's decision to sit All-Star shortstop Jose Hernandez eight times in the final two weeks to protect him from jeering as he neared the major league strikeout record, played no role in his dismissal, although Melvin criticized it.
''It does tarnish the great year he had,'' Melvin said.
Melvin said he considered calling Royster in St. Louis and demanding he play Hernandez but decided not to because he hadn't met either man and was busy enough with other business.
Hernandez finished with 188 strikeouts, one shy of the record set by Bobby Bonds in 1970.
Royster said he doesn't regret his decision.
''I wasn't going to subject him to humiliation,'' Royster said.
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