A's name bench coach Geren new manager

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics' monthlong search
for a new manager spanned from Japan to New York -- then ended where
it started with bench coach Bob Geren, the man who sat alongside
fired skipper Ken Macha all season.

The A's gave Geren a two-year contract, promoting the former
major league catcher to his first managerial job in the majors
after extensive experience managing in the minor leagues and in
winter ball.

"I'm just thrilled to death to do it," Geren said when
formally introduced Friday. "The last 24 hours have been one of
the most exciting days of my baseball life for sure."

Geren filled the final managerial vacancy in the major leagues
this offseason, one month after the A's fired Macha.

General manager Billy Beane went with the most experience and a
familiar face, his longtime friend and former high school baseball
opponent in San Diego. Beane was not at Geren's news conference
Friday because of a death in Beane's family.

After being hired Thursday, Geren called every player on his
roster, speaking to all but two and leaving messages for them. Some
A's players expressed frustration after the season with Macha's
lack of communication.

"I think I set a cell phone record yesterday," Geren said.
"The players seemed genuinely excited about it. I let them know
we're not going to do a whole lot of things on the day-to-day basis
differently. When you win 93 games, you prepared and went out and
did your business the right way. I just let them know I'm going to
be on their side, they're going to have an open line of
communication with me and I would fight for them anyway I could."

Of the three finalists, a list that also included Colorado Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk and ESPN baseball analyst and
former Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser, only Geren had
any managerial experience. He was the first to interview for the
job on Oct. 30.

"Different office, same uniform," said A's assistant general manager David Forst, noting there
will be a smooth transition because Geren has been in the
organization. "Bob is the best guy for this position and the most
prepared to be a manager. It's a big plus. Like Bob said, we won 93
games and we're not going to reinvent the wheel."

Geren, a catcher for five seasons with the New York Yankees and
San Diego Padres, spent the 2006 season as bench coach in Oakland
after three seasons as bullpen coach in his first stint on a major
league coaching staff.

"I think it helped him quite a bit," Beane said Tuesday in his
first and only public comments about the search. "But until you
sit in that chair, the only preparation is really doing it."

Geren joined the A's organization in 1999 as manager of Class-A
Modesto, then spent the next three seasons managing at Triple-A
Sacramento. He also has managed in the Dominican Winter League and
managed during three of his five seasons in the Red Sox
organization from 1994-98. He has a 452-390 record in seven seasons
as a minor league manager.

The 45-year-old Geren, the best man in Beane's second wedding,
had to at least have some confidence in his status with the
organization: He bought a house in the Bay Area this year.

Neither Beane nor Geren wanted this to be about their friendship
but rather strictly about business, though they believe that having
an understanding and a trust certainly won't hurt.

Geren said his credentials should speak to his ability. Beane
has long considered Geren managing material -- interviewing him last
year when the club briefly parted ways with Macha before re-signing
him about a week later.

Macha was fired following four seasons on Oct. 16, two days
after Oakland was swept by the wild-card Detroit Tigers in the AL
championship series. The A's won a playoff series for the first
time since 1990, ending a string of four straight first-round exits
from 2000-03.

Beane took his time in the process and watched three candidates
leave for managerial jobs elsewhere: Longtime A's third-base coach
Ron Washington went to Texas, Angels pitching coach Bud Black
became skipper in San Diego, and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta
was hired this week as manager of the Washington Nationals.

Geren batted .233 in 307 major league games.