Fired Nieto defends his work in Rochester

  • Updated: September 11, 2011 - 12:28 AM

The former Twins catcher said he was bothered by the perception his staff didn't work hard at preparing players for the big leagues.


Tom Nieto

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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DETROIT - One day after getting fired by the Twins, former Class AAA Rochester manager Tom Nieto looked back without regrets Saturday.

"I was shocked," Nieto said in a telephone interview. "That probably sums it up. I was shocked and disappointed."

The Twins fired Nieto and Rochester hitting coach Floyd Rayford on Friday but retained the team's pitching coach, Bobby Cuellar, after that trio guided the Red Wings to a combined 102-186 finish over the past two seasons.

Twins General Manager Bill Smith said the decisions were based on Rochester's on-field performance, not on the fundamental lapses former Red Wings players have made while playing for the Twins. Smith also said it was tough for Nieto and his staff with the Twins needing to rely on so many Rochester players because of injuries at the big-league level.

Nieto said he was bothered by the perception that his staff didn't work hard enough to prepare players for the majors.

"Every day, we did our early work and did everything we were supposed to do," Nieto said. "At 7 o'clock, we went out every night and expected to win a baseball game, and if it didn't work out, we went out the next day and did it again."

Nieto caught in the majors from 1984 to 1990 and was a part of the Twins' 1987 World Series championship team. He coached and managed for eight years in the Yankees organization and was the Mets third base coach in 2008.

"We didn't win as many games as we would have liked, but we didn't make excuses," Nieto said. "We were in the business of getting players ready the best that we could to go help Minnesota. Unfortunately, with the amount of injuries that came, we sent a lot of guys there. Did it affect our lineup and the outcome of our games? Sure it did. But we accepted responsibility."


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