Nationals' coaching staff in place
Newcomers have respective histories with Riggleman
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have retained hitting coach Rick Eckstein, pitching coach Steve McCatty and third-base coach Pat Listach.
The club also named John McLaren the bench coach, replacing Pat Corrales; Jim Lett as bullpen coach, replacing Randy Knorr; and Dan Radison the first-base coach, replacing Marquis Grissom.
Eckstein returns for a second season in Washington, after his offense showed significant gains in 2009 in runs per game (+0.40 per game), home runs (+39), batting average (+.007), on-base percentage (+.014), slugging percentage (+.033) and OPS (+.047) compared to the previous season.
McCatty was named pitching coach on June 2. The Nats' Triple-A pitching coach for four seasons before being summoned to Washington, McCatty employed numerous preexisting relationships with Nationals pitchers to help his staff post an ERA exactly one run better than that recorded in the season's first two months (5.69 ERA from Opening Day through May 31; 4.69 ERA from June 2 through season's end).
Listach will return for a second season as Washington's third-base coach. Last season, Listach's judgment saw only 11 Nationals thrown out at home plate on non force-outs, a figure bettered by only the Cardinals (eight) in MLB.
With added responsibilities as the Nationals' infield instructor, Listach had a hand in Ryan Zimmerman earning his first career Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
McLaren, 58, will draw on 22 seasons of big league coaching experience, including a stint as Mariners manager for portions of the 2007 and '08 seasons. He replaced Mike Hargrove as Seattle's manager on July 2, 2007. While skippering the Mariners, McLaren hired now-Nats manager Jim Riggleman as his bench coach in 2008.
Lett, 58, will draw on 15 seasons of Major League coaching experience, 11 spent as a bench coach with the Reds, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Pirates. He served as the Dodgers' bullpen coach from 2001-04, where he worked alongside Riggleman, who was Jim Tracy's bench coach at the time.
Radison, 59, begins his third tour with Riggleman, as the two worked together during Riggleman's managerial stays with the Padres and Cubs. Outside of his stints with the Cubs and Padres, Radison has managed, coached or scouted for the Yankees, Cardinals and Mets organizations from 1984-2006.
"Basically, in no particular order, they bring professionalism, experience and knowledge. They bring some great attributes," Riggleman said about McLaren, Lett and Radison. "I think they will be great additions. They have a lot of years of Major League experience, as well as Minor League experience. All three of them have done so many different things. They give us a well-rounded staff."
As for Corrales, he will return as the team's special consultant to general manager Mike Rizzo. In that role, Corrales will spend a lot of time with every Minor League affiliate and help players develop.
Corrales, who is best known for developing catcher Jesus Flores and outfielder Andruw Jones, was the Nationals' bench coach for two years under then-manager Manny Acta before former general manager Jim Bowden dismissed him after the 2008 season.
Riggleman said he wanted Grissom back, but the latter wanted to spend more time running his baseball academy in Georgia.
"Marquis had an opportunity to coach in the big leagues before, and he didn't do it because of the time that he needs to spend at that academy," Riggleman said. "As he said to me, 'This academy is not running well with me being [in the big leagues]. I don't know if I will be able to come back.'"
The Nationals offered Grissom a job as the hitting coach for Triple-A Syracuse, but he turned it down.
After having conversations with Rizzo and Riggleman, Knorr decided to become the manager of Double-A Harrisburg, replacing John Stearns.
Knorr said if he had to do it all over again, he would have been more vocal when it came to the pitching staff and try his best to convince Josh Bard and Wil Nieves that catching was more important than hitting.
"I love managing," Knorr said recently. "It's a new job. I want to be on the bench."
Knorr has a history of success in the Minor Leagues. In 2008, for example, he guided Class A Potomac to a 79-61 record en route to the Carolina League championship.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.