Ruskell explains motivations for departure

Tim Ruskell returned my call this morning and explained his reasoning for stepping down as president and general manager with five games remaining in the season.

Basically, Ruskell had sought clarity from the organization regarding his role with the team beyond this season. This process had spanned the past couple of months. When it finally became clear the team would not commit to him, Ruskell decided the best course would be to step down now, particularly as his status had become a distraction.

"We were getting ready to go into those meetings about free agency and the offseason," Ruskell said. "If I am not going to spearhead those meetings and it wasn't going to happen no matter what our record was, you become a lame duck. And I did not want that."

Ruskell and CEO Tod Leiweke are scheduled to speak at a news conference at 1 p.m. ET. I do not expect the team to announce a long-term replacement. The more likely course, in my view, would be for ownership to promote someone from within on an interim basis. We'll get those details from Leiweke once the news conference begins.

I asked Ruskell whether recent reports about his potential demise played a role in the timing of his departure. He said those reports made his status a potential distraction, but that this move had been coming for some time.

"That was a false report planted by somebody trying to stir it up," Ruskell said.