10/02/2002 12:07 pm ET
Royster: We all did what we could
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Jerry Royster was a "glass is half full"-kind of manager, even when his lineup card sometimes looked half-empty.
When the Brewers fired Davey Lopes on April 18, Royster finally got his first shot at managing in the big leagues. After five months, a .361 winning percentage and the Jose Hernandez strikeout controversy, he'll start looking for his second.
New Brewers general manager Doug Melvin relieved Royster of his duties as manager Wednesday.
"Do I think I had a chance to succeed as far as wins and losses go? I knew that was going to be tough," Royster said Wednesday morning from his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Royster was the Brewers' bench coach for two-plus seasons under his best friend Lopes and took over as interim, then full-time manager after Lopes was fired. The Brewers were 53-94 under Royster and cracked 100 losses for the first time in franchise history.
"It really doesn't come as a big surprise," Royster said after Melvin called with the news Wednesday morning. "That's all I was hired to do, take over and run the team for the rest of the year.
"As a manager you need to be hired. Taking over a job is OK, but it has to be the right job."
Royster's team was hamstrung by equal parts of injury and underachievement. The offense, built by former GM Dean Taylor to be more functional than the one that set a Major League strikeout record in 2001, never clicked. And the young pitching staff, built around youngsters Ben Sheets, Ruben Quevedo and Nick Neugebauer and augmented with 27-year-old "veterans" Glendon Rusch and Jamey Wright, was hampered by inexperience and injuries.
"We've been short, to be honest, ever since I got there," Royster said. "We all did what we could to work with it."
In September, Royster often fielded lineups with only one or two hitters batting over .240. The team's batting average leader, Jose Hernandez, sat out eight of the team's final 11 games to avoid a 32-year-old record for strikeouts. Royster took heat for that move because seven of those games came against the Giants and Cardinals, and had playoff implications.
"I would have handled it differently, probably," said Melvin, who hesitated to say Royster's handling of the situation contributed to Wednesday's announcement. "I would have tried to address it earlier once it became an issue in the media.
"I wasn't in Jose Hernandez's head. I don't know how tough that was emotionally to him. I wasn't down in the locker room. Did Jose not want to play or did Jerry not want to play him?"
Royster, 49, says he'll be back in baseball next season. One popular rumor is that if the Giants decide to relieve Dusty Baker after the playoffs, he, Royster, Lopes and possibly former Brewers pitching coach Dave Stewart could team up in another city.
Royster said he talked to Baker every day, but that those plans had not been talked about, even casually "over a beer."
"Could that happen? Yes, because we're all friends," Royster said. "But has it ever been discussed? Never."
A number of teams have already made managerial moves in the four days since Sunday's season finale. The Cubs were first, relieving Bruce Kimm. The Tigers, Devil Rays, Mets and Rangers also axed skippers.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.