08/27/08 7:49 PM ET
Eckstein joins Nats' coaching staff
Coach comes up from Columbus to help with hitting instruction
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
It's the third time in five years the organization has added an extra coach toward the end of the season.
Eckstein is considered by many to be a great Minor League hitting instructor who taught Ryan Langerhans how to hit again and put Kory Casto back on the radar screen in terms of getting another chance in the big leagues. General manager Jim Bowden believes Eckstein will become a big league coach some day.
Eckstein came back from China two days ago after being the bench coach for the Team USA baseball club in the Summer Olympics. The team ended up winning the bronze medal.
The Nationals felt it didn't make any sense for Eckstein to go back to Columbus for the last couple of games of the season, so they decided he should start working for the big league club earlier than normal.
"Rick brings a lot to the table. There a reason why Davey Johnson picked him to be one of his coaches on the Olympic team, because he is that good," Bowden said. "We have been very impressed in all aspects of his work ethic -- whether he is teaching hitting or whether he is doing infield. He is just a baseball rat, who loves the game. He is highly intelligent and well-respected by the players."
Eckstein, who is the brother of Blue Jays shortstop David Eckstein, enjoyed his time in the Olympics, but wished Team USA won the gold medal.
"China put a lot into it. They wanted to show the world what they were about," Eckstein said. "I tell you, it was nice -- where we lived in the village, the baseball facilities. You felt like you were somewhat at home with the way the facilities were."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.