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Thursday, October 20, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

MLB notebook: 41-year-old Girardi replaces McKeon, 74

MIAMI — Joe Girardi agreed yesterday to a three-year contract to manage the Florida Marlins, and will be introduced at a press conference today.

The Marlins would go from baseball's oldest manager in the 74-year-old, recently resigned Jack McKeon to one of the youngest in Girardi, 41. Only Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, 37, is younger.

"I think it's good to bring in a guy like that with a lot of excitement, a lot of pizzazz," said Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca. "Guys will be able to relate a bit more, so that should help."

Girardi apparently was the team's first choice all along, and declined to comment until today. He spent the past season serving as bench coach for the New York Yankees, and resigned from that position, sources said.

He also interviewed to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Though he has never managed at any level, Girardi's baseball background includes 15 seasons spent as a major-league catcher, one in the broadcast booth, and a stint in the Yankees dugout.

"He's an experienced winner and he comes from a great organization that knows how to win," said Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis. "I think he's going to put that personality and that feeling in our locker room, so it's a good choice."

Marlins first base and infield coach Perry Hill is expected to return, and pitching coach Mark Wiley also could return. Former major-league first baseman Andres Galarraga could become the hitting coach.

Though Girardi has never managed, many in the sport don't consider that a detriment.

Ozzie Guillen (White Sox) and Bob Brenly (Diamondbacks) are recent examples of managers with little experience who went to the World Series.

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AL champion White Sox go back to work

CHICAGO — The White Sox returned to work with their starting rotation and 25-man roster likely to stay intact for the World Series.

Right-hander Jose Contreras probably will open Game 1 on the mound Saturday night at U.S. Cellular Field. But Guillen, general manager Ken Williams, assistant GM Rick Hahn and the coaching staff are still exploring options.

Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia seem on target to pitch Games 2-4.

"Either way we set the rotation, there are a lot of guys who are going to take nine or 10 days off," Guillen said after yesterday's workout. "You have to figure out how to give these guys [fewer] days, but it's impossible ... "

Buehrle, Garland and Garcia would each have 10 days between starts.

"They're going to be strong," pitching coach Don Cooper said.

Notes

Leo Mazzone reportedly agreed to a three-year contract to become the pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles. The news came just hours after the Yankees ended talks with Mazzone, who has been in the Atlanta organization since 1979. He will replace Ray Miller, who served as pitching coach of the Orioles since June 2004. Baltimore executive vice president Mike Flanagan declined comment.

• The Rangers hired Thad Levine from the Rockies to become their assistant general manager. Levine spent six seasons with the Rockies, working as senior director of baseball operations last year. Levine, 33, will work under Jon Daniels, who at age 28 recently became the youngest GM in baseball history.

• Cardinals RHP Al Reyes had reconstructive elbow surgery to repair a torn ligament. Reyes was one of St. Louis' top relievers, going 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 65 appearances. He is expected to begin rehabilitation in three weeks, and the team said he would resume pitching in about nine months.

• The Brewers hired Dale Sveum, a former Milwaukee player, as their third-base coach. Sveum was most recently the third-base coach for the Red Sox for two years.

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