Results tagged ‘ Jim Riggleman ’

Riggleman has job interview with Giants next week

Former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman will go to San Francisco next week to interview for a job with the Giants, according to Riggleman’s agent, Burton Rocks.

It’s not known what kind of job Riggleman will interview for. Rocks said general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy have reached out to Riggleman after the latter resigned as skipper of the Nationals on June 23rd.

“They reached out to Jim out of friendship. Bruce is one of Jim’s dearest friends,” Rocks said via phone.

Riggleman managed the Nationals for almost two years, going 140-172.

Riggleman thinking about reaching .500

In between victories against the Orioles, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said he is not thinking about the Wild Card race even though his team is four games behind the Braves.

Riggleman’s goal right now is to reach .500, and the Nationals have a chance to reach that magic number Sunday against the Orioles at Nationals Park.

“We are playing good baseball and made strides to get out of last place,” Riggleman said. “We can’t do anything else until we get to .500. That is our first goal. Then we can see if we can try to pinpoint some immediate short-term goals. When we were nine under .500, we were trying to get to .500. It was a long way to go.

“I feel great about the ballclub, but we are going to see teh Mariners. They have good pitching. Then we are going to see the White Sox. They are coming alive. It’s a battle every night.”

The 2011 Nationals are clearly Riggleman’s best team since he managed the 1998 Cubs, a team that won the National League Wild Card. However, he said all of the parts are not there with the Nationals — yet.

“We are still waiting on [Steven] Strasburg,” Riggleman said. “We are banged up with [Adam] LaRoche and [Rick] Ankiel. We don’t have everybody there, but nobody does. Getting Ryan Zimmerman back is huge. I feel like we are competitive every night.”

Q&A with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo

Before watching his team defeat Orioles, 8-4, and improve their record to 34-36 on Friday night, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo spoke to about the team’s recent success and plans for the future. How do you think the Nationals are doing so far?

Mike Rizzo: I think we are playing good, solid baseball. I think we accomplished a lot of things. We were a poor defensive team the last couple of years. I think we drastically improved our team defensively. Our speed and athleticism has drastically improved. We were toward the bottom of the league in stolen bases and going from first to third. We are now doing all of those things.

Our starting pitching has been good It’s coming along really nicely. I think that coincides with the improved defense. Our bullpen has been solid. We feel that we are on the right track, we are going the right way.

Our hitting has been down this year and it has cost us a lot of ballgames, but when you are without Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche, your three and five hitters for most of the season, it’s really hard to have a productive lineup. We are hoping that when Zim is [back to being the player of old], we hope to see more consistent at-bats and score more runs. Before Zimmerman came back, the team was off to a slow start offensively. Why didn’t you panic and try to acquire a hitter via trade?

Rizzo: To panic shows a lack of confidence in the rest of the players. It would have been easy not to give Laynce Nix and Michael Morse a chance to perform or make a knee-jerk trade and give up a lot of young players for instant gratification. But we have a vision for not only this year, but down the road. That’s the biggest reason.

We have confidence in our entire roster. Coming into the season, we felt that we had as good a bench as anybody around with Nix, Jerry Hairston and Alex Cora. Unfortunately, those guys couldn’t be bench players. They had to be everyday players for us. What it did was, it gave opportunities. If you remember, when Zim went down, I said, “We are not looking at losing one of our star players. We are looking at it as an opportunity for somebody to step up. I think Morse and Nix have done that. We are reaping the benefits of it. Now that Zim is back, we feel comfortable. Entering Friday’s action, the Nationals are 5 ½ games behind the Braves in the Wild Card race. Do you think the Nationals can compete for a playoff spot?

Rizzo: We feel we can compete with any team in baseball We are not worried about the Wild Card or how many games back in the standings right now. We are worried about tonight’s game against the Orioles. Our first order of business is to play good consistent baseball. We have to get a rhythm offensively, stay consistent defensively and pitch well. We think the standings will take care of themselves. What is your biggest need right now?

Rizzo: Like any ballclub that we talk to, we are always looking to improve our starting pitching. We want front of the rotation guys. We are always looking to do that. We are always looking to improve ourselves with two-way players — offensively and defensively. We feel that is going to be our strength. That’s what we are always looking to acquire. What about the leadoff position. Do you see Jayson Werth as a leadoff hitter long term?

Rizzo: I see Jayson as a middle of the order hitter. We would like someone within the ballclub or organization to step up and be that guy. If we can’t find that guy within the organization, we will look elsewhere. What is the biggest disappointment you have this season?

Rizzo: The biggest disappointed is that we had some key injuries like every other team. When you lose players like Zimmerman, LaRoche and a potential No. 1 starter [Stephen Strasburg], those are things that effect your ballclub. I think that has been the most disappointment that we had. What about the most exciting thing you have seen so far?

Rizzo: It is watching the development of these young players. The development of Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond has been unbelievable. The emergence of Jordan Zimmermann has been great to see. The way the Nationals have been playing lately, are they buyers or sellers?

Rizzo: We are both buyers and sellers. We always have been, always will be. If we have a chance to acquire a player that is going to help us in 2011 and beyond, we are not going to shy away from that. If there is a trade to be made that will help us down the road, we will trade a player away to get a piece for the future. But we are not in sell mode. There are a lot of games to play, a lot of games to win. We are here to win games. You pointed out recently that the Nationals had a great draft. How are you doing in terms of signing those players?

Rizzo: I think we are doing quite well. After negotiating with them, we have about 15 players with contracts pending. We are in communication with our upper picks. We feel that optimistic to get those guys signed. If we do, we feel we have the best draft in baseball. You announced at Citi Field that outfielder Bryce Harper will not be in the big leagues this year. How is he doing in your mind at Class A Hagerstown?

Rizzo: He is a terrific player. His developmental curve is going quite well. He starting to get acclimated to the everydayness of professional baseball. He loves playing every day. His skills are going to take care of themselves. He is learning to play the outfield. He is much more fundamentally sound on the aspects of playing the outfield – angles, throws and those type of things. His bat has been great. Once you are satisfied by what you have seen, can you say where Harper will go next?

Rizzo: I cannot say that. I will say that we are develop him at a pace that most benefits him in the long term. He is a special player. He will be developed at a rate that allows him to be an impactful guy. How has manager Jim Riggleman done so far?

Rizzo: Jim has been great. He has the players playing hard for 27 outs each and every night — even when we had some down times. Through the good and the bad, he grinds it out every day and gives a good days’ work. He has an option left on his contract. Would you want him back for next year if things continue to go well?

Rizzo: The option year is communicated between Jim and I. I’m with Jim every day. We continually talk about a lot of different things. We are going to let the season play on. We will address it when it needs to be addressed. Right now, it’s all about baseball, it all about winning games and about playing the Baltimore Orioles.

Burnett receives confidence boost vs. Cardinals

Entering Thursday’s action, Nationals reliever Sean Burnett was having a season to forget. He allowed 15 runs in 22 2/3 innings.

Manager Jim Riggleman didn’t use Burnett that much recently because the starting pitching went deep in the game. After the pitchers were done after seven innings, for example, the skipper would use setup man Tyler Clippard for the eighth inning and Drew Storen to close.

“If the starters are going seven, [we should go right to] Clip and Storen because of the way they have been throwing,” Burnett said. “I had an opportunity earlier in the year. I put myself in a situation [where] I struggled. I don’t blame them for going with the two hot hands.”

However, Burnett was needed during Washington’s 7-4 victory over the Cardinals on Thursday night. He entered the game in the 10th inning with the score tied at 4 after Clippard and Storen allowed solo home runs to Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, respectively.

Burnett faced the heart of the order. After getting Colby Rasmus to groundout to start the inning, one would have thought that Riggleman was going to take Burnett out of the game and get a right-hander to face Pujols. But Riggleman decided to leave Burnett in the game.

“When he got Rasmus out, I felt Burney was throwing the ball well,” Riggleman said. “To be honest with you, with Pujols, it doesn’t matter who is throwing. You have to make good pitches.

“Pujols doesn’t care if it’s a right-hander or a left-hander. If he hits a home run off a left-hander, you might feel like you should have a righty, but it doesn’t matter. Pujols hits them against everybody. As good as Burney was throwing, that was as good of a chance that we had to keep Pujols in the ballpark.”

Burnett kept Pujols in the ballpark. Pujols flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. After Matt Holiday walked, Lance Berkman struck out looking to end the inning.

Burnett acknowledged that he received a confidence boost after Riggleman allowed him to stay in the game to face Pujols.

“I expect myself to stay in that situation, to get those guys out,” Burnett said. “It was a confidence boost at the same time. I had good outings this year. I’ve been lights out and then I have been bad. It was a confidence boost to get through that lineup the way I did.”

Starting pitching doing wonders for Nationals

Starting pitching is the reason the Nationals are never out of a ballgame this season. They rank seventh in the National League with a 3.76 ERA.

Lately, the starting staff has been even better. In their last 13 games, Washington starters have allowed two earned runs or fewer 11 times. They are 6-3 with a 2.25 ERA during that span.

Manager Jim Riggleman said he never had a starting staff that threw better than the one he has right now.

“I’ve never had a club that has done that anywhere. This is really good pitching. It’s really a lot of good performances,” Riggleman said. “When your starters get you 18 to 21 outs, you have a really good chance because you are going to get some matchups you prefer late in the ballgame.”

Nationals react to revamped lineup

The Nationals are last in the Major Leagues in offense, so manager Jim Riggleman decided to revamp the lineup before the team’s 2-1 victory over the Padres on Saturday.

Outfielder Jayson Werth hit leadoff, pitcher John Lannan hit eighth followed by left fielder Brian Bixler.

Only Bixler did anything worth talking about, going 2-for-2 with a walk. Werth and Lannan went a combined 0-for-6.

Shortstop Ian Desmond thought Riggleman made a great decision because the team needs to score runs.

“That’s a great idea. That’s unbelievable managing. Bixler plays nine innings, has a great game, runs the bases well,” Desmond said. “We have been looking for a leadoff hitter. If you take the contract away and just think about the baseball player, Jayson actually fits there pretty well. He is a smart base runner, he steals bases, he gets on base, he sees a lot of pitches. It’s nice to have him up there.”

Lannan didn’t know he was batting eighth until he arrived at the ballpark. Before the game, Lannan was hitless in 23 at-bats.

“It was different, but it worked,” he said. “At first, I just heard that Werth was leading off and then I found out I was batting eighth and I said, ‘OK, that’s different.’ But it worked out.”

The last time Werth hit leadoff was June 2, 2010 against the Braves. Before Saturday’s lineup was announced, the leadoff spot had been a disaster this season, hitting .209 with a .267 on-base percentage entering Saturday’s action.

“I feel comfortable hitting anywhere in the lineup,” Werth said before the game. “We need to freshen up the lineup with [Ryan Zimmerman] not being here. We try to mix it up a little bit and see if we can put up a bunch of crooked numbers. You are only leading off the first time.”

Werth most likely will lead off again against the Padres on Sunday, but Riggleman seemed to have doubts that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann would bat eighth. The Nationals will face right-hander Tim Stauffer.

“I’m not sure what we will do tomorrow. It’s different against the righty,” Riggleman said. “It will be a little different on how we will put it together. We are thinking ahead to getting Zim [Ryan Zimmerman] back next week. We’ll thinking about how we’ll put it together with him, too. I’m going to give it some thought tonight.”

Espinosa injured in ninth inning vs. Giants

During the ninth inning of their 3-1 loss to the Giants on Wednesday afternoon, the Nationals found themselves in controversy.

On a 2-2 pitch with two outs, Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa was hit on the right hand by a Matt Cain pitch. However, home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook and third-base umpire Greg Gibson ruled that Espinosa swung at the pitch to end the game.

The replay showed that Espinosa, who was in serious pain, did not swing at the pitch. Manager Jim Riggleman argued with Holbrook, but the play stood. After the game, Espinosa was seen with a patch on his left hand and declined to talk to the media.

Riggleman said he wanted an explanation on why Espinosa was called out, but Riggleman didn’t get an answer.

“The third-base umpire had it as a swing, the home-plate umpire had it as a swing,” Riggleman said. “What I was asking was, if it hit any part of the bat, then it’s a foul ball. That’s the explanation I was trying to get. I was never really told that the ball hit only him.

“You can’t walk off the field, the game is over and say, ‘OK, the game is over. We lost, you won. We don’t say anything.’ I was just trying to ask the umpires for somewhat of a lengthy explanation. I wasn’t going to argue with them. I just wanted a clear explanation and I didn’t get it.”

Nats’ Riggleman not worried about job status

In between victories against the Phillies, Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said he was not worried about his job status. Riggleman is in his second full season as skipper of the Nationals and has an option left on his contract.

Entering Friday’s action against the Diamondbacks, the Nationals are in fifth place with a 25-31 record — nine games behind Philadelphia in the National League East. While Washington’s defense and pitching have improved dramatically, the offense is the reason the team is down in the standings. Its hitting .234, which ranks 28th in the Major Leagues.

Asked if he was concerned about his job being in jeopardy, Riggleman said, “When a ballclub is losing, as a manager, you do what you think is right as far as managing the ballgame and managing a ballclub.

“What consumes my thoughts is winning and, at times, the lack of winning. The repercussions doesn’t enter into it. It’s not an issue. My concern is trying to win ballgames. When we are not winning ballgames, I’m concerned about that.”

General manager Mike Rizzo, who wasn’t available for comment, was asked during Spring Training if Riggleman was in a must-win situation, Rizzo said, “Jim Riggleman is the manager of the ballclub. I have great confidence in him.”

Riggleman replaced Manny Acta as manager of the Nationals after the All-Star break in 2009. The club went 33-42 and finished the year on a seven-game winning streak. Last season, the club went 69-93.

This is Riggleman’s fourth managerial stint, after leading the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season as a skipper was in 1998, when he guided the Cubs to the playoffs after they won a National League Wild Card tiebreaker over the Giants. The team lost to the Braves in the NL Division Series, 3-0.

Seventh inning key in Nats’ defeat

The Nationals had a chance to score at least the tying run in the seventh inning of a 5-4 loss to the Phillies at Nationals Park on Monday.

Down by that same score and Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay on the mound, Washington had Ian Desmond on first and Alex Cora on third with no outs. Rick Ankiel came to the plate for Washington and hit a ground ball to Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco. Cora broke for the plate and was caught in a rundown before being tagged out by Polanco.

Asked if Cora should have been running on contact, manager Jim Riggleman said, “No question. … If you don’t go, they turn two [the double play] on you and you are standing on third. So we are standing on third with two outs. … You have to go there.”

With only one out, the Nationals showed why they are one of the worst offensive teams in the Major Leagues. Danny Espinosa flied out to left field and Jayson Werth struck out swinging to end the inning.

Although Washington had Halladay on the ropes, Espinosa didn’t feel the team picked up a moral victory.

“A loss is a loss. It doesn’t feel any better,” Espinosa said.

Nats’ Riggleman ejected from Sunday’s game

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was ejected in the first inning of Sunday’s game against the Orioles.

On the second pitch of the game, it appeared that outfielder Roger Bernadina bunted for a base hit, but home plate umpire Todd Tichneor called Bernadina out for stepping out of the batter’s box while trying to bunt.

At first, Riggleman thought Bernadina was called out for running out of the baseline. A few seconds later, Riggleman learned that Bernadina stepped on home plate while he was bunting.

Riggleman argued for several minutes with Tichneor before the skipper was ejected. It marked the second time Riggleman was tossed from a game this season. Riggleman looked at the video later and realized that Tichneor was right. Bernadina foot was on home plate while trying to bunt.

“It’s like most calls: [The umpires are right] and we are wrong,” Riggleman said. “I didn’t even have an argument. I was just irritated the call was made. … But it’s a call you just never see get made. He got the call right. I don’t know what else I could say.”