SAN DIEGO (AP) The firing of Fredi Gonzalez by the Atlanta Braves in May has left Major League Baseball sensitive to the lack of Latino managers.
''The absence of a Latino manager is glaring,''' Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. ''There are 30 jobs and there are 30 high-turnover jobs when you're talking about field managers, and you're going to have an ebb and flow in terms of diversity, given that there is no central authority sitting above the 30 clubs saying, look, we want to have this makeup among these employees.''
MLB often celebrates its diversity. Among 864 players on opening day rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list, 82 were born in the Dominican Republic, 63 in Venezuela, 23 in Cuba and 17 in Puerto Rico.
''I firmly believe that having as diverse a system as possible from top to bottom is beneficial to the industry, so not just on the field, off it as well,'' union head Tony Clark said. ''And to be in a position where we don't have those that reflect our membership in positions of leadership is disappointing.''
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera, a two-time AL MVP, was surprised when the lack of Latin managers was pointed out to him Monday.
''How can it be possible?'' he said. ''It appears strange to me that there are so many Latino players and not a single manager. Maybe something needs to be done in order to give them more opportunities.''
In addition, there are just two black managers: Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals and Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, whose father is African-American and whose mother is Japanese. There were 10 minority managers as recently as 2009, according to Richard Lapchick of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
Manfred said engaging the African-American community is a priority for MLB, both for developing players and fans.
''It's not just we want to do the right thing because of Jackie Robinson's legacy,'' he said. ''It is an economic imperative for us because our country is becoming more and more diverse, and we have to put a playing complement on the field that reflects the United States.''
Associated Press writer Luis Ruiz contributed to this report.