KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tony Pena resigned as manager of the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night, less than two seasons after he was the American League manager of the year.
The move came hours after the Royals lost 3-1 to the Blue Jays in Toronto and fell to an A.L.-worst 8-25.
Royals spokesman Aaron Babcock said Pena would be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Bob Schaeffer.
“I feel that at this time we have not played to the top of our abilities,” Pena said in a statement released by the team. “The Kansas City Royals are on the right track by committing to their young players, and I believe the Royals will be contenders for a long time if they don’t change their direction.”
The Royals were one of baseball’s biggest surprises in 2003, Pena’s first full season in charge. They went 83-79 and contended into September before finishing third in the A.L. Central, earning Pena manager of the year honors. It was the team’s first winning season since 1994.
The Royals were expected to challenge for the division crown last season, but got off to a terrible start and traded star center fielder Carlos Beltran in June. They wound up losing a team-record 104 games.
Kansas City general manager Allard Baird said Pena will be offered a position within the organization.
“I am glad that he will continue to remain a part of the Royals,” Baird said in a statement. “He was manager of the year in his first full season and he has played a major role in the development of our young players.”