- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Washington Nationals on Monday evening fired pitching coach Randy St. Claire, just eight months after sparing him in a purge of manager Manny Acta’s coaches.

Class AAA Syracuse pitching coach Steve McCatty will replace St. Claire.

St. Claire, 48, won widespread praise for his work with the Nationals’ staff last year, but the group has a 5.69 ERA this season, the worst in baseball.

St. Claire said he was working out with Craig Stammen, Tuesday’s starting pitcher, at the ballpark on Monday, and was headed home when he got a call telling him to come back to Nationals Park. Acting general manager Mike Rizzo was the only one in the meeting to let St. Claire know he’d been let go; manager Manny Acta talked to him by phone later.

“You always know as a coach, you’re evaluated on how your guys are doing,” St. Claire said today when reached by telephone. “We unfortunately weren’t performing, and it’s a lot easier to fire me than to fire 12 guys.”

St. Claire was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the National League East, nearly midway through his seventh season with the franchise. He was named the Montreal Expos’ pitching coach in Dec. 2002, replacing Dick Pole. He joined the organization as a Class A pitching coach in 1998.

A former right-handed reliever, St. Claire turned to coaching after a big league career that spanned nine seasons and 162 relief appearances, including stints with the Expos and Atlanta Braves. Following his retirement in 1994, he began a seven-year journey back to the majors, serving as pitching coach in locales like Stockton, Calif.; Cape Fear, N.C.; and Ottawa.

Acta, who worked with him on the Expos’ staff in 2003-04, retained St. Claire in 2007 when the Nationals had their first managerial change.

McCatty, 55, has spent 14 seasons as a pitching coach at various levels. His most recent big league experience came with the Detroit Tigers in 2002, a team which finished the season 55-106. McCatty also spent three seasons as a broadcaster. In nine seasons as a major league pitcher with Oakland (1977-1985), he went 63-63 with a 3.99 ERA.