Expo general manager Dan Duquette fired manager Tom Runnells last Friday and replaced him with Felipe Alou even though the Expos were only five games out of first place. One former Expo says Runnells didn't communicate well with the older players, who didn't go for his rah-rah attitude. And Duquette acknowledged that "Tom could have connected better with some of our players."
Runnells, who's extremely intense and competitive, may have been a little too tightly wound to be a successful manager. He is, after all, the man who said, "We have to win today," before Montreal's fourth game of the exhibition season.
The 57-year-old Alou, who's the first person from the Dominican Republic to manage in the major leagues, will try to create a more relaxed clubhouse. His first move as manager was to heal one veteran's bruised feelings: He switched Gold Glover Tim Wallach from first base back to third, where Wallach is happier.
Alou now will get to manage his son, outfielder Moises Alou, and his nephew, pitcher Mel Rojas. But a word of caution: Family affairs haven't worked out too well recently. Baltimore's Cal Ripken Sr. had a 67-101 record while managing sons Cal Jr. and Billy in 1987 and '88, and as of Sunday, Kansas City's Hal McRae had an 80-86 mark managing his son Brian since taking over the Royals in May 1991.
Good things are finally happening to highly touted Astro outfielder Eric Anthony, who has been a disappointment the past three years. At week's end Anthony had 12 RBIs in Houston's last 13 games and won the regular job in rightfield. "He's been a bright spot among the dark clouds," says general manager Bill Wood.... The Phillies aren't sure that outfielder Dale Murphy will ever play again after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on May 21. He's 36, and it has been painful to watch him struggle this year.... Brewers catcher Dave Nilsson is trying to become the first Australian to become an every-day player in the majors. Teammates call him the Thunder from Down Under, and sure enough, Nilsson made some noise with his bat in his first week. He knocked in six runs in his first five games.