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MLB-worst Astros fire manager, coaches

HOUSTON — The struggling Astros fired manager Brad Mills and two members of his coaching staff Saturday night.

Mills was in his third season as manager of the Astros, who have the worst record in the majors. The team announced the moves in an email almost two hours after it lost to the Diamondbacks 12-4 to fall to 39-82.

Houston also fired hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham. The Astros said first-year GM Jeff Luhnow would name an interim manager and other staff members in a news conference this morning.

Mills became the first big-league manager to be fired this season. He was 76-86 in his first season with Houston and a franchise-worst 56-106 last year.

Mills was forced to manage the Astros under difficult circumstances. All three of his years saw a massive teardown of his roster in July as key pieces of that year's team were traded for prospects.

"I tried to do the best job I could," Mills said Saturday night.

CUBS TO EXTEND CASTRO: The Cubs and SS Starlin Castro have agreed on a seven-year, $60 million contract extension, ESPN.com reported.

The contract covers four years of arbitration eligibility and three years of free agency, and includes a $16 million option for 2020, ESPN said. Castro, 22, would have qualified for salary arbitration at the end of the year.

Castro's agent, Paul Kinzer, told ESPN.com he would not comment because the sides were still negotiating.

Castro said the deal had not been finalized. "I'm just focused on playing baseball," he said. "When it's done, I'm ready."

Club president Theo Epstein also said the deal had not been finalized.

VALENTINE SELF-CRITICAL: With the Red Sox growing irrelevant in the playoff race, manager Bobby Valentine said he is disappointed with his performance.

Hired as manager last fall when Terry Francona left after a historic September collapse, Valentine has seen Boston spend most of the season below .500.

"I'm not doing a good job. I didn't get paid to do anything other than get to the playoffs, win a lot of games, be in the thick in things right down to the end, even be in first place," Valentine said. "The team I'm managing is not there. Simple."

In other Red Sox news, GM Ben Cherington denied a report that former Rays All-Star Carl Crawford had asked the team to allow him to have reconstructive elbow surgery next week. Crawford has played in 30 games since returning from wrist and elbow injuries.

Also, minor-league LHP Brian Johnson, a first-round draft pick out of Florida this year, was hit in the face with a line drive in a Future Games at Fenway Park and sustained multiple orbital bone fractures on the left side.

MATTINGLY DISCIPLINED: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was suspended for two games, beginning with Saturday night's game against the Braves. Mattingly was also given an undisclosed fine "for excessive arguing" with home plate umpire Angel Campos on Thursday against the Pirates. Mattingly and CF Matt Kemp were ejected in the game. Kemp was not suspended or fined.

BRAVES: C Brian McCann said he has a cyst and a frayed labrum in his right shoulder and was out of the lineup for a second straight game.

RANGERS: RHP Ryan Dempster, who went on the restricted list Friday after leaving the team for personal reasons, was set to return to the rotation Monday.

ROCKIES: CF Carlos Gonzalez was placed on the bereavement list to attend the funeral of his grandfather.

YANKEES: LHP CC Sabathia, on the DL with left elbow soreness, reported no problems after a bullpen session and said he expected to return to the rotation Friday. … 1B Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup for the second straight day because of a sore left wrist and might need another day or two off to heal.

MLB-worst Astros fire manager, coaches 08/18/12 [Last modified: Sunday, August 19, 2012 1:51am]

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