Oester rejoins Reds organization

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 1, 2004

CINCINNATI - Ron Oester, a former Cincinnati Reds player and coach who soured on the team after he was passed over for the manager's job in 2000, said Wednesday he is happy to be returning now as the team's minor league field coordinator.

Oester, who says former Reds general manager Jim Bowden offered him the job as manager in 2000 and then hired Bob Boone instead when Oester asked for an improved salary offer, told reporters he welcomed the Reds' offer to bring him back to his hometown.

But when asked if he would have returned had Bowden still been with the Reds, Oester said, ''No.'' The Reds fired Bowden and Boone in July 2003 as the team fell out of contention.

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Bowden could not be reached for a response Wednesday afternoon. A cell telephone number that had been listed in his name has been disconnected.

Oester told reporters at a news conference at Great American Ball Park that his disappointment with the Reds is behind him. He said he enjoyed the past two seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league system but had kept his house in Cincinnati.

''They pursued me aggressively,'' Oester said of the Reds. ''That meant a lot to me.''

With the Phillies, Oester was responsible for developing infielders in the minor leagues. With the Reds, the former second baseman will be responsible for developing all minor league players.

Oester, 47, spent his entire 17-year career with the Reds, playing in the majors from 1978 to 1990. He helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series as they swept the Oakland Athletics.

He was the first base coach for manager Tony Perez in 1993 and later served four years as a coach for Ray Knight and then Jack McKeon, who was fired the day after the 2000 season ended.

After the Reds interviewed Willie Randolph, then a New York Yankees coach, Oester said Bowden offered to make Oester the manager. Oester said that when he expressed interest but asked the team to increase its salary offer, the Reds hired Boone as manager.

Dave Miley, a 24-year veteran of the Reds organization who had been managing in the team's minor league system this year, replaced Boone as interim manager for the final two months. On Dec. 4, the Reds said Miley would stay on as their manager for 2004.

Oester said he has known Miley since their early days in the Reds' minor league system and looks forward to working with him.

''We're glad to have him,'' Miley responded.

Oester stayed with the Reds through 2001 as third base coach before departing.

In his new job with the Reds, Oester will oversee development of minor league players and will participate in discussions about promoting them to the majors.

Tim Naehring, the Reds' director of player development, said he looks forward to working with Oester. The Reds are rebuilding after losing 93 games in 2003 and trading off several of their stars to cut costs.

''This is a step in the right direction,'' Naehring said.