Padres start staff purge

The San Diego Padres today announced that the contracts of first base coach Davey Lopes, third base coach Rob Picciolo and advance scout Jeff Gardner would not be renewed. In addition, the Padres released infielder Manny Alexander and Damian Jackson elected free agency after clearing outright waivers.

With the release of Lopes and Picciolo, the Padres are expected to announce that former Director of Player Development, Tye Waller, will join the Padres staff for the coming year.

Waller is held in high regard within the organization and his addition to the staff seems to be a formality.

"Tye will be very happy with where he is assigned," a source close to the organization said.

A call placed to Waller was not returned.

Lopes, 60, rejoined the Padres coaching staff in November of 2002 after spending the previous two-plus years as the Milwaukee Brewers manager (2000-02). Lopes originally spent five seasons (1995-99) as the Padres first-base coach before accepting the Brewers managerial post in November of 1999. Lopes hit .263 with 155 home runs, 614 RBI and 557 stolen bases during a 16-year big league career.

Picciolo finished the year extending his record as the longest tenured coach in Padres history to 15 years, his last three as the club's third base coach. Picciolo, who managed the Padres' Northwest League club in Spokane in 1986 and 1987, earning NWL Manager of the Year honors in '87 after leading the Indians to the league title with a 54-22 record, instructed Padres minor league infielders from 1988 until becoming Padres first base coach on July 11, 1990.

"We would like to express our sincere thanks to Davey, Rob and Jeff for the time they have invested in the organization and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors," said Towers. "However at this time we feel it necessary to head in a different direction entering the 2006 season."

Gardner, 41, worked in various capacities for the Padres over the past 10 seasons, serving most recently as an Advance Scout this past year, his second stint in that role. He managed at Short-Season Eugene (2001-02) before becoming manager of Single-A Lake Elsinore in 2003. Prior to his managing at the minor league level, Gardner was the Padres Advance Scout from 1996-2000. An infielder during his playing career, Gardner played parts of four Major League seasons with the New York Mets (1991), Padres (2992-1993) and Montreal Expos (1994). He enjoyed his best season while with San Diego in 1993, and as the club's starting second baseman, Gardner appeared in 140 games, batting .262 with 24 RBI and 53 runs scored.

Jackson, 32, batted .255 (70-for-275) with five home runs, 23 RBI, 44 runs scored and 15 stolen bases in 118 games for the Padres in 2005. Over parts of 10 Major League seasons with Cleveland (1996-1997), Cincinnati (1997-1998), San Diego (1999-20001, 2005), Detroit (2002), Boston (2003), the Chicago White Sox (2004) and Kansas City (2004), Jackson has a career batting average of .245 (513-for-2093) with 28 home runs, 188 RBI and 132 stolen bases in 760 games.

Alexander, 34, appeared in 10 games for the Padres in 2005, batting .111 (2-for-18) with a double. Over parts of 10 Major League seasons with Baltimore (1992-1996), the New York Mets (1997), Chicago Cubs (1997-1999), Boston (2000), Texas (2004) and San Diego (2005), Alexander has a career batting average of .232 (287-for-1237) with 15 home runs and 111 RBI in 572 games.

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