- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

LOS ANGELES | Mike Rizzo spent the offseason’s first week restocking his front office with veteran talent evaluators. Now he plans to get serious about choosing the Washington Nationals’ manager for 2010.

Rizzo on Thursday formally named three new front office executives: Roy Clark as vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia as director of Latin American operations and Doug Harris as director of player development. The Washington general manager also promoted Kris Kline to scouting director, a position vacated this week when Dana Brown left to join the Toronto Blue Jays.

Clark, who spent the past 11 years as the Atlanta Braves’ scouting director, will become Rizzo’s right-hand man and assist with roster decisions as well as draft scouting and preparation.

“The plan [the Nationals] had in place, they’ve got a chance to be special,” Clark said.

DiPuglia, a highly respected administrator who previously ran Boston’s Latin American scouting department, will be charged with rebuilding a Nationals operation in the Dominican Republic that was left in shambles following the resignation of former GM Jim Bowden and the firing of assistant Jose Rijo.

Harris, previously advance scout for the Cleveland Indians, will join Bob Boone in overseeing Washington’s minor league system.

With those moves completed, Rizzo said he’ll devote more attention to the managerial hiring. He plans to whittle down the club’s preliminary list of potential candidates to a smaller number of serious contenders, including interim manager Jim Riggleman.

The Nationals aren’t revealing any names, but Rizzo suggested he wants to talk to someone on the staff of one of the league championship series participants, which could prevent a decision from being made until after the World Series.

“We’ll begin a little more seriously in the very near future,” Rizzo said. “But we wanted to make sure these vital hirings got done.”

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