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Struggling Teams Stare Into Dugout

BALTIMORE - John Gibbons has become a manager in the middle of a season, has been fired during a season and had an up-close look at this season's first managerial change last week.

"Who knows?" the Kansas City Royals bench coach says of the potential impact of an in-season change. "But look what happened with Colorado last year."

The Rockies went 74-42 after replacing Clint Hurdle with Jim Tracy in May and reached the playoffs, which was on the Royals' minds when they traded Trey Hillman for Ned Yost last week.

Nobody's predicting playoffs for the Royals, 15-24 and last in the American League Central. But they won two of Yost's first three games against the Chicago White Sox, a team that is also a candidate for a change.

The players "are a bit more relaxed," Yost says. "What they were trying to not let happen happened. They were putting a lot of pressure on themselves."

Other places where managers are feeling pressure:

- White Sox general manager Ken Williams answered with a brisk "yes" when asked via text message Saturday by the Chicago Sun-Times if he was losing patience with his team, which dropped to 15-22 Sunday. "He's entitled to say and have the opinion," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "And I don't blame him to feel that way."

- The Chicago Cubs were 16-22 entering Monday, and Lou Piniella is dealing more with his frustration than with pressure from the front office. "We need to win," he told reporters. "Then everybody will be happy."

- In New York, a back-page headline in Monday's New York Post blared, "Fire Manuel." That's Jerry Manuel, whose Mets sank to last in the National League East after losing four in a row at the Florida Marlins.

- The Baltimore Orioles' 12-27 record is the worst in the majors, but GM Andy MacPhail says he is more focused on improving the offense than on firing Dave Trembley.

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