Astros hire Wallace to help pitchers take off

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros hired Dave Wallace as their
pitching coach Tuesday, replacing the fired Jim Hickey.

Wallace, 59, had been Boston's pitching coach since 2003. He
previously served in the same capacity with the Los Angeles Dodgers
from 1995-97 and the New York Mets in 2000.

Wallace served as a minor league pitching coach for the Dodgers
from 1981-94, including stints with Single-A Vero Beach (1981-82),
Double-A San Antonio (1983), Triple-A Albuquerque (1984-86), and as
the organization's minor league pitching instructor from 1987-94.

"Dave has a remarkable background as a successful pitching
coach at all levels of the game," said Astros general manager Tim
Purpura. "He will serve as a key member of our staff as we work
toward our goal of returning to the playoffs in 2007."

Wallace also spent several seasons in the Dodgers' front office,
including a brief stint as interim general manager from April to
October 2001. He also served as a special assistant to the general
manager in the offseason of 2000 and as the senior vice president
of baseball operations during the 2002 season.

"I am excited to join an organization that has such a strong
winning tradition," Wallace said. "The Astros have always had a
high standard for pitching, and I look forward to working with such
a talented group."

Hickey was fired Oct. 4, even though the Astros had the NL's
second-lowest ERA (4.08) last season and tied the Mets for the most
shutouts with 12.

Purpura said he was disappointed Hickey didn't get more out of
the team's younger pitchers. Aces Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and
Andy Pettitte went a combined 36-27, but rookie starters Taylor
Buchholz, Matt Albers, Jason Hirsh and Chris Sampson went 11-17.