Before the Washington Nationals’ new manager, Jim Riggleman, took questions from the media late Wednesday afternoon, he thanked former manager Manny Acta, who had been with the team since 2007.
“The work that Manny has put in here is … as thorough and complete as you can do,” said Riggleman, who has nine years of managing experience. “He’s an outstanding manager. … I know really good days are ahead of Manny managing in the major leagues. … It’s one of those situations [that happens] when you lose ballgames — I’ve been there with a couple of ball clubs. … [When] you lose enough, the manager is usually the one that takes the hit. That’s what happened.”
With that in mind, Riggleman stressed that he wouldn’t make any wholesale changes with the Nationals. because he says all of the right pieces are in place; it’s just a matter of everything coming together.
“Everything that we’ve tried to do to this point was all correct — in theory, it’s all correct,” said Riggleman, the team’s former bench coach. “Manny did all of the right things, so there’s not a lot of change to make; we’ve just got to get some results. … We’re not going to reinvent the game.”
While he made it clear that no radical line-ups would be trotted out on the field, Riggleman did mention wanting to use the speed and athleticism Nyjer Morgan, Willie Harris, and Alberto Gonzalez more often.
Riggleman also said that his message wouldn’t be much different than Acta’s, adding that “Maybe [with the message] coming from somebody else, maybe they’ll respond and maybe they won’t. But we’ve got to try that.”
Jordan Zimmermann contended that he’s looking forward to playing under Riggleman. The starting pitcher also mentioned that the team needs to know firing the manager won’t make the players perform better on the field.
“We’ve just got to play better as a team,” Zimmermann said. “It’s not all Manny’s fault. He did what he had to do, and it just didn’t work out. It’s easier to get rid of one guy, I guess, than try to get rid of 25 new guys. I think it might change just having someone else do the speaking and getting on guys if [he] has to.
“Change is always a good thing, I think.”
- Scott Miller