The Washington Nationals’ new manager will have a revamped coaching staff, with only one member of last season’s staff — pitching coach Randy St. Claire — being asked to return for next season.
The team announced yesterday that hitting coach Mitchell Page, bullpen coach Randy Knorr and third base coach Tony Beasley will not be retained on the major league staff, though Page and Knorr will remain with the organization on the minor league level. General manager Jim Bowden said bench coach Eddie Rodriguez will not be back, either.
First base coach Davey Lopes left the organization two weeks ago to take the same position with the Philadelphia Phillies, so each member of former manager Frank Robinson’s staff now has learned his fate.
Yesterday’s announcements came on the day all of the coaches’ contracts expired, and none was particularly surprising. Bowden said two weeks ago the new manager would have the authority to hire his own staff with the exception of St. Claire, who was rehired for his fifth season with the team.
“That has not changed at all,” Bowden said yesterday. “We’re a loyal organization, and when the new manager’s in place, if he and the organization decide to go in a different direction with coaches, we didn’t want to have them sitting out there without a job. That’s why out of respect to the three, we offered them positions within the organization so they knew they had stability for their family.”
Page and Knorr each accepted offers to work in the Nationals’ farm system, Page as minor league hitting coordinator (the same job he held in 2005) and Knorr as manager at Class A Potomac (the job he held last spring before getting promoted to the major league staff after bullpen coach John Wetteland was fired).
Beasley also was offered a job — manager at Class AA Harrisburg — shortly after the season ended but said he informed Bowden he wanted time to explore other options before making a decision. Bowden said the team couldn’t wait.
“Tony declined and said he wanted to shop his opportunities to other clubs,” Bowden said. “At that point, we told him we needed to fill the position, but we respected where he was coming from.”
“I never declined or said I would not accept,” Beasley said yesterday. “I asked for time, and obviously I didn’t have time. But I never refused anything. … Last year was great. I learned a lot. It was a good experience for me. I guess it’s just time to move on.”
Beasley said he has accepted a position with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their minor league roving infield instructor.
Bowden did not reveal anything about Rodriguez, who had been the franchise’s bench coach since 2004, other than to say: “He will not be returning with us.”
Rodriguez has been talking with several organizations about minor league jobs and is expected to accept one soon.
Despite the coaching announcements, the Nationals do not appear to be any closer to announcing the name of their new manager.
“We hope to have a manager in place by the winter meetings [Dec. 4-7],” Bowden said. “Besides that, I don’t have any other comment.”
Washington has interviewed eight candidates to date and will meet with Phillies Class AAA manager John Russell this week. Of those who already have gone through formal interviews, only New York Mets third base coach Manny Acta, New York Yankees first base coach Tony Pena and former Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker have not been ruled out.