DUNEDIN, Fla. - Tim Johnson, who lied about his military service in Vietnam, was fired by the Blue Jays and replaced by Jim Fregosi today.
General manager Gord Ash, who hired Johnson before last season, said the military service controversy had become a distraction in preparation for the season. The Blue Jays were 3-12 in exhibition games.
Fregosi, who signed to a two-year deal, was in the Blue Jays' camp today. He had been with the San Francisco Giants as a special assistant to the general manager.
"I have always wanted to manage," he said. "I missed the action, I missed the field."
Firing a manager in spring training is rare, but not unprecedented. Phil Cavaretta was fired by the Chicago Cubs in March 1954.
"We've got 18 games," Fregosi said. "We'll be ready by Opening Day."
Johnson was unavailable for comment. He left Florida and was driving to see family members in Kansas.
Blue Jays players found out about the managing change when they arrived for workouts this morning.
"When did that happen?" pitcher David Wells asked. "I don't know what to say. Jim's a good guy."
-- Kerry Wood isn't sure if he'll be back with the Chicago Cubs for the 2000 season.
"I haven't even had the surgery yet. It's too early to think about when I'm going to be back," the NL Rookie of the Year said today upon his return to the Cubs' spring training camp.
Baseball's brightest young pitcher, whose fastball dazzled fans during his rookie season, will undergo ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow in the next two weeks. Rehabilitation is expected to take about a year.
-- Carlos Baerga, who had been trying to win the second-base job with the St. Louis Cardinals, was waived today. Signed as a free agent in the offseason, the 30-year-old Baerga was just 2 for 15 in six exhibition games. He hit .266 for the New York Mets last season.
-- Todd Hollandsworth, filling in for Gary Sheffield in left field, continued his hot hitting yesterday in the Dodgers' 7-3 spring-training loss to Florida. He extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 3 for 3. Hollandsworth is batting .486 (17 for 35) with three home runs and six runs batted in.
Sheffield, 36, in camp after taking two days off to attend to personal matters, didn't play against Florida because of chronic pain in his right shoulder.
-- Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson threw 98 mph in a Cactus League game against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up only a bunt single while striking out five in four innings.
-- Two busloads of Atlanta Braves players visited first baseman Andres Galarraga at his West Palm Beach, Fla., home. Galarraga will miss the season while being treated for lymphoma.
-- Roger Clemens, facing Toronto for the first time since forcing the Blue Jays to trade him to the New York Yankees, pitched five innings against his former team. He left with the score tied 1-1.