PITTSBURGH -- Experiencing their worst start to a season in more than 100 years, the Braves made their first in-season managerial change in more than a quarter century on Tuesday, relieving Fredi Gonzalez of his duties and elevating Triple-A Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker to interim manager."As we got into Spring
PITTSBURGH -- Experiencing their worst start to a season in more than 100 years, the Braves made their first in-season managerial change in more than a quarter century on Tuesday, relieving Fredi Gonzalez of his duties and elevating Triple-A Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker to interim manager.
"As we got into Spring Training and opened the season with the bad start, we wanted to keep providing opportunities to see if we could turn this thing around," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said before Atlanta's 12-9 loss on Tuesday. "It obviously didn't look like it was going to happen. [Braves general manager John Coppolella] and I started talking about this four or five days ago and saying, 'How much longer do you want to wait?'"
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The Braves initially discussed dismissing Gonzalez during their 0-9 start to the season and again during an eight-game losing streak during the latter part of April. Hart and Coppolella opted to hold off while accounting for Ender Inciarte's month-long stint on the disabled list and the reality that many of their offseason roster decisions had not gone according to plan and left Gonzalez with a flawed roster.
"This isn't Fredi's fault," Coppolella said. "If you really want to have it laid at anyone's hands, it can be at mine and at [Hart's]. When we spoke to Fredi, it was time for a new voice and time for a change. We're hoping the change will spur this team. We don't feel like this season is over. We feel like there is a lot of baseball left to play and we can play our best baseball yet."
The Braves also dismissed bench coach Carlos Tosca, who had served in that capacity for Gonzalez dating back to their time together with the Marlins from 2007-10. Terry Pendleton will become the bench coach. Pendelton's previous duties as first-base coach will be filled by Eddie Perez, whose previous role as bullpen coach will be filled by Marty Reed, who had been Gwinnett's pitching coach.
Gonzalez remained a loyal company man as his rosters were weakened by the massive rebuild the Braves began last year. But Hart and Coppolella began to recently sense frustration from the veteran manager, who went 434-413 during his tenure as Atlanta's skipper.
"It's never good to go through a change like this during a season," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "It's hard to put into words. He's a good man. Everybody loves him around here. I can't find a person to say a bad word about him. But we've had a couple of tough years and baseball is a business. Unfortunately, change was the way to go, I guess. We've got to abide by it, go out there and start winning ballgames now."
This marked the first time the Braves made an in-season managerial change since Bobby Cox replaced Russ Nixon midway through the 1990 season.
Snitker was actually informed of the decision on Monday morning, a few hours before he prepared to manage his last game with Gwinnett. Gonzalez did not learn of the decision until late Monday night, shortly after the Braves fell to 9-28 with a series-opening loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
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"A bad start is not laid at the foot of Fredi Gonzalez," Hart said. "We all assume a lot of responsibility for how this club has gotten off to this kind of start. But with that being said, we certainly believe we're better than what we've played."
While this bad start certainly halted the original plan to at least allow Gonzalez to manage through the end of this season, the ultimate decision was based on the fact that the Braves had determined Gonzalez was not the man they wanted serving as the team's manager beyond this year, when the club's talent-rich prospect crop could significantly influence the team's bid to become consistently competitive again.
Gonzalez accepted the tough task of becoming Cox's successor at the end of the 2010 season and had the team in position to reach the postseason in 2011 before his rotation was decimated by Derek Lowe's decline and injuries suffered by Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson. The Braves earned a Wild Card bid in 2012 and won the National League East in 2013.
"Sometimes, change is a good thing," Braves right fielder Nick Markakis said. "Sometimes, it's a bad thing. You never know until you try. [Hart and Coppolella] thought it was the time and they're trying to do what is best for us. I think we all understand that and we all see that."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.