By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – The Texas Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister on Friday, more than a week before the end of what will be the team’s first consecutive losing seasons in 10 years.
Bench coach Don Wakamatsu will serve as interim manager for the remainder of the season, starting with Friday night’s game against Seattle that opens the final home series of a disappointing year.
Banister, hired after the 2014 season, had a 325-313 record in his first managerial job. The Rangers won the AL West title in each of his first two seasons (2015-16), then lost to Toronto in the AL Division Series both times.
The Rangers had a 64-88 record going into Friday night’s game, after a 78-84 mark last season. They were 88-74 in Banister’s managerial debut in 2015, and matched a team record with an American League-high 95 wins in 2016.
General manager Jon Daniels said he informed the 54-year-old Banister of the decision on Thursday, a day off for the team. Banister was under contract through next season.
“This was not an easy decision and comes after a long period of evaluation. However, we feel that a change in the leadership of our Major League club is necessary as we move forward,” Daniels said. “Once this conclusion was reached, I felt it was appropriate to make the move now.”
Daniels was scheduled to meet with reporters later in the day to discuss the move.
Wakamatsu rejoined the Rangers last November after four seasons as the bench coach in Kansas City. He previously served on the Rangers staff from 2003-07.
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