baseball-john-mclaren_392

John McLaren's first major league managing opportunity lasted 156 games. ((Ted S. Warren/Associated Press))

The Seattle Mariners fired manager John McLaren on Thursday, just three days after getting rid of the general manager.

McLaren, 55, will be replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman.

"John worked extremely hard to try to make this club better," said Lee Pelekoudas, who was handed the GM duties on an interim basis following Monday's firing of Bill Bavasi.

[McLaren]

did everything he could to try to make us win games. But compared to our expectations going into the season, it was clear we were underperforming."

McLaren posted a 68-88 record in parts of two seasons with the Mariners, including 25-47 this season.

Bavasi was dismissed Monday, even though he was responsible for bringing in marquee players such as Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Bedard, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Silva and Richie Sexson — moves that pushed Seattle's payroll to $117 million US.

The Mariners remain on pace to become the first team to lose 100 games with a $100-million US payroll.

"We hadn't shown any improvement for the last couple of months," Pelekoudas said. "In fact, we were probably regressing."

It was McLaren's first major-league managing opportunity after 37 years in baseball.

He was one of the first hires of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1976, and spent 14 years in the organization as a scout and minor-league manager.

Two weeks ago, McLaren made headlines for a somewhat contrived, profanity-filled tirade following a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on June 4.

"As we move toward the trade deadline and decisions have to be made on the futures of the players on our ballclub, I wanted to see if a different voice could make a difference in their performance," Pelekoudas said.

Riggleman hasn't managed in nearly a decade.

He spent much of the 1990s as a major-league skipper, compiling a 486-598 record with the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs.

"Jim is a serious man," Pelekoudas said. "He is not a guy looking to have fun."

Riggleman spent time as bench manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and as a minor-league instructor with the St. Louis Cardinals before being hired by Seattle at the end of last season.

"He is intimately familiar with our ballclub and I believe he will do a fine job," Pelekoudas said.

The Mariners, losers in five of their last six games, play Friday at Atlanta.

With files from the Associated Press