The view up the third base line will deliver a familiar face. That’s where Bobby Henley, who has been with the Washington Nationals organization since it was operating as the Montreal Expos, will again stand next season.
He’ll do his regular work of pitching to the pitchers in batting practice, holding or sending runners, and telling strangers that he is from, “LA,” which stands for Lower Alabama.
Around him is a new batch of coaches to back rookie manager Dave Martinez.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo repeatedly downplayed that Martinez was a “first-time manager” when Martinez was introduced. Since Martinez is in his first job — though he has been involved with Major League Baseball for decades — Rizzo was asked if he felt the need to surround Martinez with veteran coaches. The functional answer was presented Thursday when the team announced the staff. From Chip Hale, a former manager, to Tim Bogar, now the first base coach who was a bench coach, Martinez’s staff is filled with experience.
Next to Martinez as his bench coach will be Hale, who managed the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2015-16. He previously worked as a coach for the New York Mets, Oakland Athletics and Diamondbacks. His most recent position was third base coach for Oakland. Like Martinez, Hale, 52, is a former player who has extensive coaching experience. He spent six seasons as a minor-league manager and three seasons as the bench coach in Oakland under Bob Melvin.
Replacing Mike Maddux in a clean swap of pitching coaches is former major-league pitcher Derek Lilliquist. Maddux was hired by the St. Louis Cardinals shortly after his two-year contract with Washington expired following the season. Lilliquist spent the last six seasons as the Cardinals’ pitching coach. He will be joining a new employer for the first time in 16 years.
The new hitting coach is Kevin Long, the man largely credited with helping Daniel Murphy turn from a contact hitter to a loft connoisseur, which vaulted him to an All-Star level. Long, 50, spent the last three seasons with the New York Mets and eight previous seasons with the New York Yankees as their hitting coach. He replaces Rich Schu, who was with Washington for five years. Schu represented one of the few stable coaching spots for Bryce Harper, who is entering the final year of his contract. Schu was hired Thursday by the San Francisco Giants, according to multiple reports.
Bogar will take over at first base for Davey Lopes. Bogar was the Seattle Mariners bench coach the last two seasons. He has been a major-league coach, minor-league manager, and even in the front office. He also played in the major leagues. Lopes, 72, was considering retiring from baseball.
Joe Dillon will be the assistant hitting coach. Dillon spent the last two seasons as the Miami Marlins minor league hitting coordinator. Prior, he was hitting coach for Triple-A Syracuse from 2014-15.
Then, there is Henley. Next season will be his fifth as the Nationals’ third base coach and 24th as part of the Montreal/Washington franchise. He has coached in the Nationals’ system for 15 years.
Martinez still needs a bullpen coach.