Former Nationals bench coach (and interim manager for three eventful games in Chicago this past June following Jim Riggleman’s resignation) John McLaren has gotten word that his name was on the New York Mets’ list for their open bench coach and first base coach jobs and is “hopeful to get an interview,” he said Wednesday. He has not, however, been contacted just yet by their front office.
On the same day that former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was in New York interviewing for the bench coach job on Mets manager Terry Collins’ staff, McLaren was coming off a half-season’s-worth of scouting the National League West for the Nationals and several weeks in Florida working with the Chinese team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic. McLaren, who has a wealth of international baseball experience, has been asked to manage the squad.
Immediately, though, McLaren is unsure where his future in baseball will take him. His contract with the Nationals expires on Oct. 31 and he does have the option of possibly remaining with the organization as a scout. McLaren has spent the majority of his life uniform, though, and was emotional about the prospect of never wearing one again when he left the Nationals’ coaching staff this past June and moved into a scouting role.
“I feel bad about Jim Riggleman,” McLaren said at the time. “It’s a tough situation for everybody. He’s a good friend. I wish it hadn’t gone down like this but it did and I think that we’ll move on.
“I’ve been thinking about maybe it’s time to get out of coaching. I can’t throw batting practice anymore — well I can but I’ve hit about four guys so I think I’m about done there. Maybe a new chapter in my baseball career. I’ve done scouting before and I enjoyed it.
“I’m a very emotional man. I kind of wear everything on my sleeve. But I think everybody’s good now. It’s been fun. The Nationals have treated me very well, and it’s time to move on.”
McLaren has served as a scout on two other occasions (in 2006 and 2009 for the Tampa Bay Rays) and does enjoy it, he said, and did again this year, but “would listen to a coaching job in the right situation.” McLaren is expected to discuss his future with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and Bill Singer, the team’s director of pro scouting, in the coming weeks.
Asked again about the prospect of moving on from an on-field position for good, the 60-year-old was practical.
“At some point, I’m going to have to have a new chapter of my baseball career,” he said.
McLaren, whom many players were sad to see go when he left the coaching staff this summer, was also effusive about the Nationals’ prospects for next season and beyond. He lauded the good young core of players the Nationals have in shortstop Ian Desmond, second baseman Danny Espinosa and catcher Wilson Ramos. Adding to the growing sentiment that the Nationals are near contender status, McLaren was blunt.
“Things are coming together in a hurry,” he said. “People (around the league) know that the Nationals are going to be a team to compete with.”