CINCINNATI (AP) -When the Pittsburgh Pirates offered Pete Mackanin a chance to manage their Class-A team in Dunedin, Fla., last year, he politely declined.
``I think I'm a little too young to be put out to pasture,'' the 55-year-old manager said.
Good decision.
Mackanin was introduced Tuesday as the interim manager of the Cincinnati Reds, who offered him the opportunity to get back into the majors for at least a few months.
Granted, they're the worst team in the majors, but at least they're in the majors.
``Without question, it's tough,'' Mackanin said. ``This is a tough job. I'm up for the challenge. Hopefully I'll be recognized for doing a good job.
``I'm going into it with my eyes wide open. It isn't a pleasant situation to get into. But I'd like to help get the organization on track.''
It's going to take more than one interim manager with a total of 26 games of experience managing in the majors.
Mackanin had spent 13 years managing in the minors when the Pittsburgh Pirates gave him his first chance to run a big-league game. He took over when Lloyd McClendon was fired near the end of the 2005 season and went 12-14 the rest of the way.
The Pirates decided to hire Jim Tracy as their next manager and offered Mackanin the Class-A job. After he declined, Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky - a longtime friend from their scouting days - hired him as an advance scout.
Once Krivsky decided it was time to fire Narron, he thought of Mackanin, who had stepped into the same tough situation two years earlier in Pittsburgh.
The two of them became fast friends when they met in Philadelphia 10 years ago.
``We hit it off,'' Krivsky said. ``We talked baseball for hours. It was a lot of fun. He's just a guy I connected with talking about the game.''
Now he'll find out whether it's a good thing that a friend is letting a friend manage the Reds.
Cincinnati is at the bottom of baseball for good reason. The bullpen is the National League's worst, the starting lineup is too reliant on homers, and the energy drained out of the team as the losses mounted. The Reds were 31-51 when Narron was fired.
``Not one guy in here can say they didn't contribute to it,'' closer David Weathers said Tuesday. ``We'd all be kidding ourselves if we didn't say we all contributed to him being fired.
``We've got 51 losses and we're not even to the (All-Star) break yet. That's bad, any way you slice it. That's a bad record, especially with all we've got in this room.''
Mackanin will need some time to figure out exactly what he's got in the clubhouse. He threw batting practice to Reds hitters during spring training, then hit the road to scout opponents once the season began.
He was in San Francisco watching the Giants, who opened a series Tuesday in Cincinnati, when Krivsky offered the interim job.
Narron was fired Sunday night after an 11-7 loss to St. Louis. Players didn't blame Narron for the poor showing, but knew something had to happen with the way things were going.
``It's a business,'' outfielder Ryan Freel said. ``That's the first thing that happens when you're in a funk like that.
``I had respect for Jerry. He's a good man. That's just how baseball goes, I guess. Something had to be done.''
Nobody's quite sure what has to be done to dig the Reds out of their rut. Cincinnati is headed for its seventh straight losing season, it's longest stretch of futility in a half-century.
Although Mackanin hadn't seen the Reds play in person during the season, he heard about their problems from other scouts on the road.
``There's no secrets,'' Mackanin said. ``The record speaks for itself. We've got plenty of good players. Our record stinks.''

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