PITTSBURGH (AP) -General manager Dave Littlefield was fired Friday by the Pittsburgh Pirates after six-plus seasons in which the team showed little progress on the field or in its farm system.
The firing came with only three weeks left in the season and the Pirates in their customary spot in last place in the NL Central, with a 61-79 record - three losses away from a 15th consecutive losing season, one off the major league record.
No decision on the status of Littlefield or second-year manager Jim Tracy had been expected until after the season. Managing general partner Kevin McClatchy, who has run the day-to-day operations since 1996, is resigning when the season ends and his successor was expected to evaluate Littlefield and Tracy.
``It's tough,'' Tracy said upon hearing the news. ``It's real tough. He's more than friend to me.''
Littlefield, a former executive with the Marlins and Expos, succeeded Cam Bonifay midway through a 100-loss season in 2001 and was expected to make major changes in a team that had shown no headway since winning three division titles in the early 1990s.
But Littlefield's efforts to rebuild the Pirates failed, and the Pirates never had fewer than 87 losses or finished higher than fourth in a full season during his stay.

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