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Cruz dismissed from Astros staff

Cruz dismissed from Astros staff

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HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said late Tuesday the club's coaching staff would undergo significant changes for the 2010 season.

The Astros, who will begin interviewing candidates Wednesday for their managerial position, have informed franchise icon Jose Cruz that he will not return as first-base coach next year and instead have offered him another position in the organization.

Additionally, hitting coach Sean Berry will return in his current role, but pitching coach Dewey Robinson informed the team he was going to pursue other opportunities. Bench coach Ed Romero will manage at rookie league Greeneville next year, and bullpen coach Mark Bailey will become hitting coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.

"We had indicated we would let them know what their status was after a new manager was hired, but the more we talked about that internally and realized the process would take a while, we didn't think that was fair," Wade said.

Wade said Dave Clark, who managed the team on an interim basis in the final 13 games and will interview for the manager position Wednesday, will return to the staff if he doesn't get the managerial job. He served as third-base coach last season.

Wade and president of baseball operations Tal Smith met with each coach individually in New York during the final series of the season and laid out the club's plans for the staff for 2010.

On Tuesday, Cruz was offered a position as an administrative coach for home games, which would allow him to be in uniform during batting practice and sit in the general manager's box during the game. When the club is on the road, Cruz would work as a community outreach executive in a role similar to the ones Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn occupy. Cruz also would be a part the field staff for all of Spring Training.

"I told them I was going to think about it with my wife and myself," said Cruz, a four-time club Most Valuable Player who just completed his 13th season as first-base coach.

Wade said Robinson declined a position within the developmental program to pursue other opportunities, but Berry, who took over as hitting coach midway through the 2006 season, was thrilled to return.

"I work my tail off," said Berry, who had surgery May 8 to remove a kidney with a cancerous tumor. "I have put my heart and my soul into the Astros, and some body parts, too. I'm excited. I'm disappointed with last season for sure, but I always try to look at the positive."

Cruz, 62, is one of the most popular players in franchise history. He ranks near the top of the club's offensive charts in several categories and had his No. 25 retired in 1992. Cruz said he met with Wade and Smith at the Astros offices on Tuesday and was told of the club's decision.

"I didn't know what to say," he said. "I don't think I was ready for that. I was thinking something else. I was surprised. I had so many years as a coach, 13 years, and it will bother me for a little bit, but I didn't have much to say. That's part of the game.

"You start from the bottom and work all the way up. I think I was proud of my coaching job in the outfield and coaching first base. I was happy with that."

Cruz has been involved in all nine of the Astros' postseason appearances as a coach or player. He made the first three trips to the playoffs as a player and still holds the club record for most triples in a career.

"I just hope everything will be good for the club," Cruz said. "I will think about it for two or three days and see what happens. I'm going to be all right. I've got to get my head straight. Tal Smith has always been good to me, and Ed Wade. I'm just a little surprised, that's all. I just need a couple of days."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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