04/09/2002 5:01 pm ET
Tigers sign Pujols to one-year deal
Alou offered bench coach position
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The interim tag on Luis Pujols as Tigers manager didn't even last a game.
Tigers president, chief operating officer and general manager Dave Dombrowski signed Pujols to a one-year contract on Tuesday, making Pujols the manager at least until the end of this season.
"We had potential managers and we had some names," Dombrowski said. "We felt the person that would give us the best opportunity to win this year would be Luis. He knows the players. He has the best knowledge of the organization."
With the power to shake up the coaching staff, Pujols moved quickly. He offered Felipe Alou, the former Expos manager and Pujols' mentor in Montreal, a job as bench coach. Alou, who Monday expressed an interest in the managerial role and has been considered for other openings since leaving the Expos last summer, has not yet given an answer.
"Felipe said he would like to help," Dombrowski said, "but he has family. He didn't like the idea of going somewhere for one year with what he experienced in Montreal.
"If it did not work out with Luis after this year, we would be in a position where we would offer [Alou] a position as special assistant to the general manager for two more years. He was receptive."
Pujols named Steve McCatty, his pitching coach last year at Double-A Erie, to the same position in Detroit. Jeff Jones was named as bullpen coach, Rafael Landestoy became first base coach, and Juan Samuel was moved from first to third base.
Gone from Phil Garner's staff are pitching coach Dan Warthen and third base coach Doug Mansolino. Warthen was named to his post by former manager Larry Parrish in July of 1999. Mansolino had worked under Garner since 1998, including two years with the Brewers.
The decision to give Pujols a one-year deal came out of a late-night, five-hour meeting with Pujols and most of the Tigers baseball management. Dombrowski, Pujols, Al Kaline, Scott Reid, John Westhoff, Greg Smith and Ricky Bennett met until close to midnight following Monday's rainout against the White Sox.
Pujols essentially gave his interview during that time, discussing his coaching philosophies and strategies. After discussing it with Pujols out of the room, Dombrowski was sold.
"I think he's a good baseball man," Dombrowski said. "I think he's good communicator. He's a good leader. I think he's not afraid to take charge at all. He was a manager in the minors. He was a bench coach to one of the best managers in the game. It's up to him to show us what he can do."
Dombrowski's previous relationship with Pujols, having hired him as a coach back in 1987, did not play a significant role. Since he hasn't seen Pujols manage, Dombrowski was reluctant to offer him a multi-year deal.
He did, however, grant Pujols the power to change the staff and called Alou on Pujols' behalf to encourage him to take the bench coach job.
Pujols talked to Alou again Tuesday morning. "He's still 50-50," Pujols said. "He's older and smarter than me. Things probably will work out for the best. It's going to be a decision that's going to have to be made by him."
Pujols said he would like to name a bench coach within the next 2-3 days.
Dombrowski admitted that he had considered Alou for the managerial position. However, the direction of the team and the amount of development needed set Dombrowski against it. When he called Alou, he only discussed the bench coach position.
"I think the biggest difference for me in that regard," Dombrowski said, "is I want [the manager] to here for a long time, someone to work with me hand in hand for 5-10 years. I don't look at this as a team that is a year away from competing."
Dombrowski added that he never discussed the managerial opening with any candidate before his interview with Pujols.
Like McCatty, Landestoy has a long-standing relationship with Pujols. They played together with the Houston Astros in the early 1980s. He spent the past two years as a roving infield instructor in the Tigers farm system.
Jones served the past two years as pitching coach for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, after working as the Tigers bullpen coach under Parrish in 1999. He has worked in the organization since 1989.
The philosophy from Pujols that won over Dombrowski sounds much like what would be expected out of a traditional National League club. On Monday, Dombrowski said he'd like to build the Tigers like an NL team, due in part to the large dimensions of Comerica Park.
"We have to run a little more," Pujols said. "You can't sit back and wait with that deep field. I talked to the players and they liked it."
Pujols' experience with the Tigers' young players, as well as his work developing Montreal's young talent, proved equally important.
"Our Major League manager, whoever the Major League manager is for the long term, is a person who is aware that whenever players reach the big league level, the development continues," Dombrowski. "I think you can be successful that way in our market. The Houston Astros, the Oakland A's have young players and they get better once they get there."
Tigers prospects who played under Pujols last year at Erie, from Nate Cornejo to Andres Torres to Mike Rivera, have sounded the same message. They loved Pujols' simple rules: Be on time and play hard.
"He's a great guy and he's a great player's manager," Cornejo said. "Everybody got along with him. He's a great guy."
Veteran players, meanwhile, have warmed to his personality. Throughout the clubhouse, however, the fact that the two-day turmoil is over and they won't have another new manager in a few weeks was a relief.
"Now we know who our manager is," Robert Fick said. "And we know there's going to be changes if we don't play hard."
Jason Beck covers the Tigers for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.