Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jalisco Charros: Rojas out, Fermin in as skipper

Just days after the Mexicali Aguilas made the first managerial change of the current Mexican Pacific League season by firing Gil Velazquez and replacing him with Roberto "Chapo" Vizcarra, the Jalisco Charros have let Homar Rojas go and brought Felix Fermin (pictured) in as a replacement. The Guadalajara club announced Rojas' dismissal Tuesday after the Charros registered a seventh-place first half finish with a 15-19 record.

Rojas was hired by Jalisco last December after Juan Navarrete was let go and led the Charros to a playoff berth, but the team was eliminated from the postseason after a four-game sweep by Mexicali in the first round.  The 52-year-old native of Santiago, Nuevo Leon spent 23 seasons in the minor leagues as a catcher after making his Mexican League debut with Monterrey in 1982 at age 18.  After spending two seasons with the Sultanes and another three with the Mexico City Tigres, Rojas' rights were dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1987 campaign.  He put in four years in the Dodgers system, including all or part of three seasons at AA San Antonio, and hit .273 with 9 homers in 241 games.  After returning to Mexico in 1991, he played 14 more years in the LMB before retiring in 2004 at 40 following seven summers in Oaxaca.

Since then, Rojas has been a frequent passenger on the merry-go-round that is managing a baseball team in Mexico, putting in four years piloting Oaxaca, four years with Reynosa, one in Campeche and three with Monclova.  His 12-year record at the helm of LMB clubs is 651-647, including a 69-43 mark with the Acereros last summer, when he managed the North at the All-Star Game in Monterrey.   He has also managed winterball teams in Obregon and Hermosillo, leading both teams to single MexPac pennants while winning Manager of the Year awards twice with the Yaquis.  As usual, the Charros thanked Rojas for his service in a press release.

The 53-year-old Fermin is a product of the Dominican Republic who was signed by Pittsburgh in 1983 and reached the majors with the Pirates four years later.  He went on to spend ten seasons in MLB (including five with Cleveland) between 1987 and 1996, hitting .259 over 903 games while striking out just 147 times.  He peaked with Seattle in 1994 when he batted .317 as the Mariners' starting shortstop, but plummeted to .196 in 1995 and was dealt to the Chicago Cubs after the season.  Known more for his glove than his bat, Fermin was nicknamed "El Gato" or "Felix the Cat" for his quick reflexes in the field. He retired as a player at 32 in 1996.

As a manager, Fermin spent four years managing Monterrey in the Mexican League, winning the LMB flag in 2007 (his first year with the Sultanes). before moving to Carmen in 2011 for another four campaigns during which he was named Manager of the Year in 2013 after the Delfines won the LMB South regular season title.  After being fired by the Delfines on June 29, 2015 with a 29-38 record, Fermin returned to Monterrey with a month remaining in that season and went on to take the Sultanes to the 2016 LMB North regular season crown with a 72-39 mark and reached the North playoff finals before being knocked out by Tijuana. His nine-year managerial record in the Mexican League is 531-440.  This is Fermin's first stint in the MexPac.

Another longtime Mexican baseball manager, Alfonso "Houston" Jimenez, is filling in with the Charros until Fermin officially takes the reins on Thursday.