- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Nationals had to look only 30 minutes south to find their next bullpen coach.

Randy Knorr, who had been the manager of the Potomac Nationals, was hired as bullpen coach yesterday replacing John Wetteland, who was fired on Thursday.

“I was real surprised. I’m down there in [Class A] ball and we’ve got a chance to win the first half, and I get a call yesterday,” said Knorr, who led the Potomac Nationals to 31-36 record, within two games of first-place Lynchburg in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. “When somebody like Frank Robinson asks you to do something, you do it.”

Wetteland was fired because he didn’t carry out the manager’s orders and undermined Robinson’s authority with the relievers. A lack of discipline carried onto the field, with a bullpen ERA of 4.45.

When Knorr retired at the end of the 2004 season — when he hit .269 with 16 doubles, two home runs, and 37 RBI with Class AAA Edmonton — he stayed in the franchise’s system as a coach.

Knorr, 37, managed Savannah of the low Class A South Atlantic League to a 62-76 record in 2005 before moving up to high Class A Potomac.

“When I came into this organization [2002], we kept him around three or four years at [Class AAA] for insurance at the big league level, and we had him at [Class AAA] to handle the young pitchers down there,” Robinson said. “He was thought of very highly by handling pitchers. To me, it’s knowledge of pitchers, handling pitchers, and being an ex-catcher. I think he fits the bill here.”

Edgar Caceres, who had been slated to manage short-season Class A Vermont, will manage Potomac the rest of the season. Infield coordinator Jose Alguacil will manage Vermont.

Clayton gets a scare

When Nationals shortstop Royce Clayton headed to the club’s dugout in the eighth inning doing a wind-mill motion with his right arm, the worst was feared: a second Nationals shortstop headed to the disabled list with a shoulder injury and no capable backup.

Clayton popped his shoulder out of place diving for a Melky Cabrera line drive in the eighth inning. X-rays taken on Clayton’s shoulder came back negative. He will have a precautionary MRI this morning and then try to talk his way back into the starting lineup.

“It feels fine, there wasn’t a lot of pain, it kind of momentarily just popped out for a second,” Clayton said. “It’s just a precautionary MRI and I should be fine. All the tests the doctor took me through — range of motion and strength — wasn’t bothering me. I’ll just have my hands full convincing ‘Skipper’ to get me in there tomorrow.”

Extra bases

The Nationals signed eight draft picks yesterday, bringing the club’s total to 18 out of this month’s draft. Left-hander Cory VanAllen, a fifth-rounder out of Baylor, was the highest drafted player the Nationals signed yesterday. … Former Washington Senators first baseman Frank Howard, aka “The Capital Punisher,” threw out last night’s ceremonial first pitch. “Hondo” hit 237 home runs in his seven-year Senators career.

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