Players throw support behind Acta
Rumors of dismissal have several speaking up for skipper
NEW YORK -- Manny Acta said on Tuesday that he is not thinking about being dismissed as manager of the Nationals.
FOXSports.com reported on Saturday that Acta would be relieved of his duties and replaced by bench coach Jim Riggleman. Acta spoke to management that same day and was informed that the report was inaccurate.
"I feel great -- I don't worry about rumors," Acta said. "When your number is up, your number is up. I don't spend time worrying about that. If I listen to and answered everything that is said about me, I wouldn't have enough time to prepare myself and put this club together."
Acting general manager Mike Rizzo spoke out for the first time since the report of Acta's dismissal surfaced.
"Manny and I have talked every day since [the report] came out. We are in constant communication," Rizzo said. "It's certainly uncomfortable with the speculation. Names have been [talked about] regarding replacements and we haven't even discussed this with the current manager.
"He is still our manager and we still support him. All the reports that happened over the weekend -- I don't know where those reports come from. There's not much to comment on. There is no basis to it."
Entering Tuesday's action, Washington is 16-45, but the players said Acta is not at fault. The blame belongs to them.
"Manny is doing everything he can to put us in the position to win and we are not winning games for him," reliever Ron Villone said. "I don't think he deserves to be [dismissed] because he has not been out there giving up hits and making errors. He is doing everything possible. It's up to us to do the job."
Said first baseman Nick Johnson, "We just haven't been playing well. We are the ones that go out there between the lines. It's on us to play better baseball.
Asked how the Nationals can turn things around, Villone said the players must have a better mental approach to the game.
"Manny has put us in position to think about what could happen," Villone said. "Players prepare before the game. You have to prepare mentally just as much as physically. We have to prepare mentally more than ever."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.