Sports

Baseball: Giants shuffle coaching deck; Tigers re-sign Pudge

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants fired hitting coach Joe Lefebvre and first-base coach Willie Upshaw on Tuesday.

Lefebvre just completed his sixth season on the Giants' staff, fifth as hitting coach, and worked closely with slugger Barry Bonds. Upshaw was a hitting assistant in 2005 and 2006 before being promoted this past season. He also previously served as minor league hitting coordinator.

General manager Brian Sabean said both Lefebvre and Upshaw have been offered other positions within the organization.

The Giants -- who have not reached the playoffs since 2003 -- will bring back bench coach Ron Wotus, pitching coach Dave Righetti, bullpen coach Mark Gardner, third-base coach Tim Flannery and bullpen catcher Bill Hayes. Flannery, who was on manager Bruce Bochy's staff in San Diego before Bochy left the Padres last year, was already under contract through the 2008 season.

"I talked to Bruce and Sabes," Upshaw said in a phone interview from his home in Connecticut. "They were just going to make some changes based on the way things went this past season and how tough it was. I think I'm past shocked in this game. When you don't win, something's going to happen."

A phone call to Lefebvre wasn't immediately returned.

San Francisco went 71-91 during Bonds' 15th and final season with the club, which decided with about a week left not to bring back the 43-year-old home run king. The Dodgers (82-80) and Giants brought up the rear in the NL West for just the second time since divisional play began in 1969.

San Francisco is committed to a youth movement, with the acknowledgment it could take lumps for the next couple of seasons as the franchise rebuilds. But the Giants are determined to find a way to remake the team while also winning next year.

"It's always tough to make changes and I want to thank Joe and Willie for their hard work and dedication and for helping me during my first year with the Giants," Bochy said. "I will be working closely with Brian to fill the two positions on the staff shortly."

TIGERS RE-SIGN RODRIGUEZ -- Detroit decided Ivan Rodriguez was worth another $13 million and exercised an option Tuesday on the All-Star catcher's contract, retaining him for a fifth season.

The player known as Pudge has been an All-Star in each of his four seasons with the Tigers, earning a spot in baseball's midsummer classic this year for the 14th time. He also won two more Gold Gloves -- giving him a record 12 as a catcher.

Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Rodriguez are the only three players in baseball history with at least 12 Gold Gloves and a career .300 average or better.

A-ROD WALKING? -- Agent Scott Boras hinted Tuesday that Alex Rodriguez will opt out of the final three seasons of his contract with the Yankees and seek a new deal in the free-agent market that will lock him up through his pursuit of Barry Bonds' home-run record.

Boras negotiated Rodriguez's record $252 million, 10-year agreement with the Texas Rangers before the 2001 season, a contract the Yankees took over when they acquired A-Rod before the 2004 season. His next deal could last for more than a decade.

Rodriguez enters next year 17th on the career home-run list with 518 and is 242 behind Bonds.

SHORT HOPS -- Curt Schilling will pitch for Boston in the second game of the AL championship series against Cleveland, following Josh Beckett in the rotation and moving ahead of Daisuke Matsuzaka. ... Philadelphia and manager Charlie Manuel agreed to a two-year extension with a club option for 2010, keeping around the folksy manager who led the Phillies to their first NL East title since 1993. ... The White Sox hired former Royals manager Buddy Bell as the organization's director of minor league instruction. ... Longtime Astros radio announcer Milo Hamilton, 80, was recovering in a Houston hospital after having a heart attack over the weekend. ... The Blue Jays hired Gary Denbo as their new hitting coach.

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