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The Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman on Friday, just four days after hiring him as their manager.

The decision to oust him so quickly came after revelations that he twice had been arrested and had struggled with financial problems. The team had been unaware of Backman's problems until the media reports.

Randolph introduced

NEW YORK -- Willie Randolph hung up the phone and gave his wife, Gretchen, a big hug. After falling short nearly a dozen times, he finally was a major league manager.

"I think my wife had to pull me off the ceiling, I was so excited," he said Thursday at Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets introduced the Brooklyn native as their 18th manager, replacing Art Howe. "It's a lot of emotion running through your body, the fact that you finally get your opportunity, you're doing it in your hometown, for the team you rooted for as a kid."

The former Yankees second baseman called his parents in South Carolina after Mets General Manager Omar Minaya hired him Wednesday night and took congratulatory calls from Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson. Paul O'Neill and Don Mattingly telephoned, too.

Randolph was given a three-year contract worth about $1.8 million and the chance to earn bonuses. After 11 seasons as a coach with the Yankees, he knows the importance of success and the intolerance of failure.

"I watched Willie as a player when I was growing up," said Minaya, a Queens native. "When I think about him, I think about a confident professional who has had a lot of success."

Around the horn

Charlie Manuel was introduced as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The 60-year-old Manuel, who managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000 to '02, replaces Larry Bowa. He takes over a club that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993.

Tampa Bay center fielder Rocco Baldelli hurt his left knee playing baseball with his brother at his Cumberland, R.I., home and was to undergo surgery today. Details were not released.

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