Braves players react to firing of Fredi G

Freeman discussed Tuesday's firing of Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. (Video by David O'Brien)

Some Braves players got a call from Fredi Gonzalez; others talked to him in the hotel lobby on his way out Tuesday. By late morning all the Braves knew their manager had been fired along with bench coach Carlos Tosca, the first major casualties of the team’s majors-worst 9-28 record.

“When two guys lose their job it’s not a very good day,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “It’s never good to go through a change like this during a season, I don’t care who you are. It’s always tough. It’s hard to put in words. (Gonzalez) is a good man. Everybody loves him around here.

“I can’t find a person to say a bad word about Fredi. But we’ve had a tough couple of years, and baseball is a business. Unfortunately change was the way to go, I guess. You’ve got to abide by it and go out there and start trying to win ballgames.”

Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has played 19 major league seasons with seven organizations and said he’d never experienced a midseason managerial firing before.

“It’s never easy to see a good man go, doing something he loves doing,” Pierzynkski said. “You don’t want to see good people like that let go. It’s a shame, but this game goes on, the team goes on. Fredi will be missed, but at the same time we have a new manager and a game tonight that we have to focus on.”

Pierzynski was asked if a managerial change — Brian Snitker was named interim manager — might be something that could help the Braves get their season turned around.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been through this,” he said. “You come into the season expecting a certain guy to be here the whole year, and when he’s not here it’s a little bit different. But Snit will do things the way he’s supposed to do. A lot of guys I’ve talked to know Snit and have a lot of respect for him, and say he’ll do a good job. So we’ll see.”

Right fielder Nick Markakis, in his second season with the Braves after nine with the Orioles, said he’s gone through plenty of managerial firings, including the midseason variety.

“My second team, sixth manager,” he said. “Been through it a couple of times. It’s not a fun day. Ultimately you don’t want things like this to happen. Then again it is a business. I experienced that a couple of offseasons ago (when the Orioles didn’t try to re-sign him). You’ve got to do what’s right for the team. Sometimes change is a good thing; sometimes it’s a bad thing. But you never know until you try.”

Veteran outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who experienced a midseason managerial change last season when he was with the Phillies, said, “It’s never an easy day when something like this happens. Not just Fredi but Tosca, two people lose their job. In any profession that’s not fun. But at the same time, we know that eventually they wanted a new voice, and as players, as professionals, we’ve got to keep going and play hard.

“I think Fredi did a great job coming in to replace Bobby (Cox); who wanted to do that? That’s one of the toughest jobs there is. But at this point, I think they’d made their mind up obviously with going into a new stadium next year, that things would be different. And I think at this point there’s still 4 1/2 months left and hopefully this is an opportunity for a new voice to come in and see if we can do something.”

Braves president of baseball operations John Hart and general manager John Coppolella talked of the change — a new voice — hopefully being something to help the Braves stop what the top officials consider to be underachieving by the team to this point of the season.

“Mr. Hart and Mr. Coppy thought it was time,” Markakis said. “They’re trying to do what’s best for us, and I think we all understand that and we all see that. …

“We just need to play ball. Ultimately everything comes down to the players; we’re the ones out there doing it. We just need to finish up the first half strong, come out in the second half and build on that. We’ve got a lot of young guys around here, we’ve got some good veterans to teach. It’s a learning process.”

Pierzynski said the call he got from Gonzalez on Tuesday morning was something he never wanted to have happen.

“You get a phone call in the morning from the manager, and he’s telling you he’s been fired. It’s not easy,” Pierzynski said. “Doesn’t matter who it is. Obviously I think everyone in here liked Fredi as a guy and as a person. As a human being he’s one of the best. He genuinely cared for everybody. …

“That’s the tough part of this business. But like I said, we’ve got a game tonight, and we’ve got to move on, try to play hard and win one for Snit.”