After the Mud Hens beat Columbus 4-1 Saturday, the Tigers announced that Phil Nevin's contract as manager would not be renewed after this season. Here are a few notes, quotes and items of interest ...
- First, making sure this is clear: Nevin was not fired. Nevin learned his contract would not be renewed for next season, and he was given the opportunity to finish the season. He decided to finish the home portion of the schedule and will return to his family in California Sunday.
- Nevin finished with a 192-238 record in his three seasons in Toledo. This year the Mud Hens are 61-81 and will finish fourth in the International League's West Division. There is a strong change the Hens will NOT have the IL's worst record, though; one more Toledo victory or one more Gwinnett loss will help the Hens avoid the worst record.
In 2011 Nevin led the Hens to a 67-77 record and a fourth-place finish in the IL West. Last season Toledo was 64-80 and was third in the West (ahead of Louisville, the team with the league's worst record). Nevin's 238 losses are the ninth-highest total in franchise history, but his win total does not break into the top 10.
- Dave Owen, the Tigers' director of player development, was at Fifth Third Field to discuss the move. "Discussing this internally, we felt you can't put all the blame on the manager for the things that have happened with the club," Owen said. "We felt it was time for a different leadership here in Toledo.
"Phil had some things he wanted to finish here in Toledo and then not join the club in Columbus, and we honored his wishes on this." Owen said that Nevin was given the chance to finish the season.
- Owen said that Gene Roof, a former Toledo manager who currently serves as Detroit's roving outfield instructor, will manage the Mud Hens in the team's final two games at Columbus Sunday and Monday. Owen said that pitching coach A.J. Sager and hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham will finish the season with the club. Their status for the future has not been announced -- and don't read anything into that, because it is typical for this point in the season.
- The Mud Hens learned that Nevin would no longer be the team's manager in a pre-game meeting. "It was emotional," Ben Guez said. "I played him for three years now, and I love him as a manager. I've had nothing but great times with him. Unfortunately we couldn't put a better product on the field for him, but it's tough to see a teammate or staff member go, he will be missed."
- Nick Castellanos helped Nevin go out on a winning note with his two-run homer in the first inning, his second in as many days and 18th this season. "You never want to hear that about anybody -- a player getting released or a manager being let go," Castellanos said. "It's not fun. We came out here and tried to give him the best game we could in his last game. What a way to end it -- with a triple play!"
- That's right: The Mud Hens finished Nevin's last game as manager -- and the final home game of the season -- by turning a triple play. Columbus had runners on first and third with no one out, and Ryan Rohlinger flew out to left for the first out. Hens leftfielder Gustavo Nunez -- normally an infielder -- threw the ball home, and Toledo catcher Bryan Holaday managed to catch the ball and tag Jeremy Hermida out at the plate. Then Holaday noticed that Chun Chen had strayed too far off first base; Holaday threw to Argenis Diaz, who threw to Jordan Lennerton at first, and Lennerton tagged Chen out to complete the triple play.
That was the Mud Hens' first triple play since the team turned that trick against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 18 of last season. This also was just the second triple play turned in the International League this season.
- Phil Nevin spoke about his situation following the game. "They informed me a couple of days ago that my contract would not be renewed and I would not be back next year," Nevin said. "They gave me the option of finishing the entire season, and I chose to finish the home season. Now I can go home and watch my sons play baseball [Sunday] and Monday. I just felt that was the right thing to do."
"It was unfortunate that things didn't work out. The record speaks for itself."
- Nevin was asked if he felt the Tigers gave him a fair shake in terms of personnel in Toledo. "That's not something for me to comment on," said Nevin, who managed in Double-A Erie in 2010 before leading the Hens the past three seasons. "I've worked for a great organization for four years. I've worked for some great people and made some great friends and built some great relationships. When I say that I'm not just talking about players; I'm talking about the coaching staff here, which has been incredible. [I'm talking about] my bosses here -- Dave Owen, Al Avila, Bill Dancy, and Glenn Ezell, who hired me. These are tremendous people and great baseball minds, and I've enjoyed working for them. Those relationships won't end. But when things don't get done, they make changes."
- Nevin had a smile when he talked about the triple play. "Gustavo Nunez has been wearing me out to put him in left field," Nevin said. "I wanted to do that for him. He's a special kid who obviously didn't get to play too much, but he had two hits last night and he ended the game with that [play]."
- Nevin said he would like to manage again. "Everything I have done in my life has revolved around baseball," he said. "I've done this since I was kid. My family, my friends -- everything I have in life is [from] baseball. I almost feel like I owe it to the game to give back to it. It puzzles me why more ex-players don't get into this kind of stuff -- I'm trying to give back to the sport that has given me everything in my life. I'm not the kind of guy who is going to take a break for a year; if something comes up, and it makes sense and is something I'll enjoy doing, absolutely."
- OK, ready for some possible replacements? Here are three names to watch -- and this is off the top of my head. Don't know if these guys would be interest. I do know all three work for Detroit, so coming to the organization wouldn't be a problem. In alphabetical order ...
- Chris Cron. Is in his third season at Double-A Erie, and has just led the SeaWolves to the Eastern League playoffs. He has won more than 1,000 games as a manager, and has managed at every level of the minors, including three seasons at Triple-A for Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League in 2000-02.
- Bruce Fields. Managed the Mud Hens in 2001-02, leading Toledo the IL playoffs in 2002. Has managed in the Tigers system for six others seasons as well. He was a coach for the Tigers under Alan Trammell from 2003-05. This past season he returned to the Tigers organization after seven seasons with the Indians; he was Detroit's minor-league hitting coordinator.
- Larry Parrish. The Mud Hens all-time winningest manager with 569 victories, Parrish led Toledo in 1994, then from 2003-06 and 2008-10 before becoming the hitting coach for the Atlanta Braves. Parrish, who was inducted into the International League's Hall of Fame this year, currently is in his first season as the manager for Lo-A West Michigan in the Midwest League.