Results tagged ‘ Jim Riggleman ’

Bernie has chance to be right fielder for Nats

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said that outfielder Roger Bernadina has a chance to be on the 25 man-roster to start the season.

It helps that Bernadina is on a hot streak and has seen his batting average climb to .289 with two RBIs entering Saturday’s action against the Braves. Bernadina shortened his swing at the suggestion of hitting coach Rick Eckstein and it has paid nice dividends for the left-handed hitter. 

Because of Bernadina’s success of late, the Nationals may not be in a rush to acquire a right fielder. 

Riggleman did not say, however, if Bernadina would see most of the action in right field. As of now, Willie Harris is the right fielder against the Phillies on April 5. If Bernadina makes the team, he most likely will be part of a platoon in right field.      

“Roger is playing very well. He is really making a case for himself for that right field spot. He is running the bases well,” Riggleman said. “Rick Eckstein has really had an impact on him, especially the last 10 days. Roger has made a little adjustment at the plate. He took that to batting practice and it immediately took off [into a game].

As recently as March 17, the day right fielder Elijah Dukes was released, Bernadina wasn’t on the Nationals’ radar screen. In fact, they were thinking about sending him to Minor Leagues camp because he was off to a slow start. But the change at the plate convinced the organization to give Bernadina a longer look. 

Bernadina is a solid defender and, based on his Minor League numbers, is capable of holding his own at the plate. The 2008 season was his best, leading all Nationals prospects in hitting [.336], hits [151] and runs scored [78]. 

Last year was Bernadina’s big chance to make an impact on the big-league team, but he missed most of the season because of a fractured right ankle.

Guzman making a case to be starting shortstop

Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman played the first of two consecutive games Friday afternoon and was able to throw the baseball without any problems in a 7-4 victory over the Cardinals.

Guzman, who is recovering right shoulder surgery, had three assists and made two putouts in the game. Manager Jim Riggleman was encouraged by what he saw from Guzman. For most of the exhibition season, the team was concerned that Guzman’s shoulder wasn’t strong enough to make tough throws. Now, it appears Riggleman isn’t worried about Guzman’s shoulder.

“He is playing fine. His style of throwing is not to get up there and gun it. It’s not what he does,” Riggleman said. “The ball is getting across the infield nicely. He has a good velocity on his throws. Guzzie is doing fine.”

Entering Saturday’s action, the battle for the starting job at shortstop is between Guzman and Ian Desmond. So far, Desmond has the lead, hitting .300 and leading the team with 12 RBIs. If he is not the starting shortstop, Desmond will go to Triple-A Syracuse and play every day at the same position.

Guzman has played only 10 games this spring because of shoulder issues and he had to deal with family matters in Washington. He is 7-for-30 [.233] with a home run and four RBIs.
Riggleman said that he has to make a decision between Desmond and Guzman soon. If Guzman is not the everyday shortstop, the plan is to make him a utility player. Riggleman acknowledged that Guzman would have to take a “crash course” on how to play second base, a position Guzman has never played in his life. Guzman has played third base once and that was during the All-Star Game in 2008 at Yankee Stadium   

“If one of those two guys were on the ballclub and not be the shortstop, we need to get him some work some other places,” Riggleman said. “We need to make a call on it pretty soon.” 

Nyjer wants to hit lefties; Trying to figure out bench

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan was seen taking batting practice against left-hander Randy Tomlin, a Spring Training instructor, on Sunday. Morgan seemed comfortable at the plate, hitting mostly line drives and stopping himself from swinging at inside pitches.

The left-handed hitting Morgan is looking to improve against left-handed pitching after going 18-for-103 (.175) against them last season.

“Basically, I kind of stunk up the barn last year hitting lefties. Basically, I killed righties [.344],” Morgan said. “If I can hit the lefties a little bit, it’s going to get me on base a little bit more. It will create a little more offense, too, for the club.”

* Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said the most difficult part of Spring Training will be trying to figure out his bench. There are 15 players vying for roles off the bench: Outfielders Roger Bernadina, Chris Duncan, Willie Harris, Justin Maxwell, Jerry Owens and Willy Taveras, infielders Eric Bruntlett, Ian Desmond, Alberto Gonzalez, Mike Morse, Pete Orr and Josh Whitesell and catchers Jamie Burke, Devin Ivany and Wil Nieves. 
Of the 15, Harris and Nieves are all but locks for the bench, so it’s more than likely the rest of the reserves will be fighting for the final four spots, provided that Washington carries 11 pitchers. 

“I think there are a lot of different scenarios with the bench,” Riggleman said. “The bench is tough because you can paint a picture of 11 pitchers as oppose to 12. Most team carry 12 pitchers. That has something to say about how your bench is used or how many left-handed or right-handed hitters you could carry.

“The [player] options factor in there. Sometime there is a bench player who you think would help the club, but somebody else is out of options. You don’t want to run that player out of options through waivers and lose him There are four or five different scenarios and we are not even close to knowing how that’s going to end up.”     

* Riggleman still hasn’t decided who will be the team’s Opening Day pitcher. The assignment will either go to left-hander John Lannan or right-hander Jason Marquis. Whoever it is, that pitcher will face the Phillies twice  in two weeks.

Last year,  Lannan was the Opening Day starter for Washington and lasted three innings and gave up six runs against the Marlins in Miami.

* Right-hander Rafael Martin, who was at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday for Photo Day, said there were at least 10 teams who were interested in his services, but he is glad Washington selected his contract from Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League because he has a shot to pitch in the big leagues sometime this year.

Before playing in the Mexican League, Martin worked for Slater Incorporated in Riverside Calif., building concrete structures for storm drains. He also played softball during the week and baseball on Sundays.

It took a friend from California who helped get a tryout with Saltillo. Martin ended up playing for the  team for three years, going 13-6 with a 3.81 ERA and one save.   
* The Nationals are not having an intra-squad game before the start of the exhibition season. Riggleman prefers to see the team work on fundamentals and have bullpen and live batting practice sessions.

“The intra-squad stuff — I like it, but there is a downside to it,” Riggleman said. “It can get less than serious because it’s your buddies you are playing against. There is a lack of seriousness about the matchup between a pitcher and hitter in some situations.

“The thing you do get out of it is, your hitters are one day closer [to being ready for the season]. They saw some pitching today. When that first exhibition game starts, they are seeing something similar that they saw the previous day. Other than that, I don’t think we get a lot of it.”
* Riggleman announced that right-hander Miguel Batista will start against the Braves at Champion Stadium on March 5.

Jim Riggleman to have pregame segment on radio

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman will have a pregame segment on WFED Federal News Radio  starting April 5, when his team faces the Phillies at Nationals Park. Riggleman is the first Nationals manager to have such a segment.

Riggleman’s segment will be part of  “Nationals On-Deck,” a 30 minute pre-game show which is hosted by Nationals play-by-play announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler.   

“We are really excited because in the last five years, we were not able to come to any agreement with Frank Robinson or Manny Acta,” said Jeff Wolinsky, who is the director of nationals sales and sports sales manager at WTOP Radio Network  and WFED. “The reason this was able to happen with Jim is because he wanted to have an opportunity to reach out to the fans. This gives Jim a great opportunity to speak as clearly as possible to the fans on a daily basis.”

Slowes was ecstatic when he learned Riggleman will have a segment on a regular basis. 

“We’ve wanted  something like this since we began in 2005 and when I talked to Jim about it last season, he was very interested in the idea,” Slowes said. “We’re thrilled it’s coming to fruition, and fans will get to hear Jim whether it’s on the road or, of course, at Nationals Park.”

Riggleman wasn’t available for comment, but his agent, Burton Rocks, said his client wanted to connect to the fans.

“This was something Jim was quite passionate about,” Rocks said. “He wanted the fans to feel connected to the team on a daily basis.”  

Managerial candidates for Nationals

After they restructured their front office in mid-October, the Nationals went through a long process to find the right manager. has learned from a baseball source that the Nationals talked to at least six other candidates, including Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Bo Porter, Tim Foli, Bob Melvin, Dave Duncan and Bobby Valentine.

The Nationals had asked the Dodgers for permission to talk to hitting coach Don Mattingly, but he took himself out of the running.

Of the other candidates, La Russa, Foli and Valentine were the most intriguing. According to the source, La Russa was honored to be considered, but told the Nationals he would retire if he didn’t manage the Cardinals.

Foli has managed in the Nationals’ Minor League system since 2005, working with prospects such as outfielder Roger Bernadina and shortstop Ian Desmond. The Nationals rewarded Foli this past season by making him an extra bench coach in September.

There is a strong possibility that Foli could be a big league coach for the team. If not, he is expected to be a Minor League adviser.

Valentine joined Riggleman as the finalist for the managerial job. Valentine’s tenure in Japan ended at the conclusion of the 2009 season, and he joined ESPN as an analyst with an out clause from that position if he’s able to procure a managerial job. Valentine, the former skipper of the Rangers and Mets, managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons.

He led the Mets to a pennant in 2000 and had a .510 winning percentage (1,117-1,072) in 15 total seasons. For Chiba Lotte, Valentine also enjoyed wild success, winning the 2005 Japan Series, a first for the Marines in 31 years.

Valentine was informed that Riggleman will be the Nationals skipper on Wednesday.


Jim Riggleman named manager of Nationals

The Nationals have decided to name Jim Riggleman the permanent manager, according to a baseball source. The news comes five months after he was named the interim skipper, replacing Manny Acta.

A press conference is scheduled for Thursday at Nationals Park.

Riggleman, who finished ahead of  Bobby Valentine in the managerial search, indicated on Monday that a decision would be made after the General Managers Meetings, which ended Wednesday.

“In talking to some people up in Washington, the feeling I’m getting is that there will be [something happening] between the General Managers’ Meetings and the Winter Meetings,” Riggleman said recently. “That leaves a big gap, but I think we will know something shortly after [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] gets back from Chicago. So I guess that would lead toward this week or early next week. I think we will have some type of decision made.”

Riggleman, who was not available for comment on Wednesday, took over as the manager after the All-Star break, and the Nationals played harder and mostly mistake-free baseball. The team went  33-42 under Riggleman.

Unlike past years in Nationals history, Riggleman is one skipper who held players accountable for mistakes they made on the field. Case in point: on July 24, Riggleman was not happy after a 6-2 loss to the Padres, frustrated with his players’ effort. It didn’t help that Washington made four errors and committed a passed ball in the outcome.  He reamed them out, and the Nats went on to win 12 out of their next 14 games.

Riggleman was even praised by general manager Mike Rizzo for the job that the skipper did during the second half of the season.

“Like I said in the past, we have a terrific in-house candidate in Jim Riggleman, who has as good a chance as anybody to becoming the manager for the Washington Nationals. The search is going to begin a little more seriously in the very near future,” Rizzo said recently.

Riggleman: Managerial decision coming soon

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman doesn’t know if he’ll be at the helm on a permanent basis, but he indicated a decision will be made after the General Manager’s Meetings.

“In talking to some people up in Washington, the feeling I’m getting is that there will be [something happening] between the General Manager’s Meetings and the Winter Meetings,” Riggleman said. “That leaves a big gap, but I think we will know something shortly after [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] gets back from Chicago. So I guess that would lead toward  this week or early next week. I think we will have some type of decision made.”

The good part about the 2009 season was that the Nationals played better baseball under Riggleman, who guided them to a 33-42 record. Riggleman was even praised by Rizzo for the job that Riggleman did during the second half of the season.

Asked if he thought he would get the permanent position, Riggleman said,  “I think I have a good chance. The one thing is that we did everything we could do. I don’t think we left any stone unturned. I think we tried to address every issue, we tried to get the players to play hard and respond to what we were trying to do on the field. We felt like the players responded.

“The won-loss record leaves a lot to be desired. I feel we made some progress. I feel real good about how the players went about their business. I think people were getting after it toward the end. So regardless of what happens, I feel we did the job and you have to respect the process.”

The Nationals have kept the managerial search a secret. The only thing that is publically known is that Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly took himself out of the running. When reached by phone last week, Rizzo declined to discuss the managerial search.

There were published reports that Bobby Valentine, Bob Melvin and Tim Foli would be interviewed, but it’s not known that they ever met with Rizzo or team president Stan Kasten.

Managerial search getting underway for Nats

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday that the search for a new manager will be in full swing soon. He also said there is a possibility the skipper may not be named until the postseason is over.

Rizzo has spent most of the offseason revamping the front office. Recently, the Nationals named Roy Clark vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia director of Latin American operations and Doug Harris director of player development. The team also promoted Kris Kline to director of scouting.

“The managerial search is going to begin a little bit more seriously in the very near future,” Rizzo said. “But I wanted to make sure we got these vital hirings in the front office as the first part of putting our plan in place.” 

Rizzo said interim manager Jim Riggleman is still a strong candidate to remain the manager. During the second half of the season, the Nationals went 33-42 under Riggleman.

“We are [getting ready] to make phone calls, cutting down a long list into a smaller list and discuss with specific people about the managerial job,” Rizzo said. “Like I said in the past, we have a terrific in-house candidate in Jim Riggleman, who has as good a chance as anybody to becoming the manager for the Washington Nationals. The search is going to begin a little more seriously in the very near future.”

Besides Riggleman, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine most likely will get interviews. Another person the Nationals may look at is Dave Duncan, who is currently the pitching coach of the Cardinals. However, there are reports that Duncan most likely will return to St. Louis.

Through his representative, Burton Rocks, Riggleman said he was aware the Nationals were going to take care of the front office before searching for a manager.

“Mike had told Jim of his plan to revamp the front office first,” Rocks said. “Jim just wants the process to play out. Obviously, at the end of the day, Jim really enjoyed working for Mike and [team president] Stan Kasten. Jim wants to be a part of the entire Nationals family.” 

Riggleman not sure he will be back with Nats

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman is not sure if he will back with the Nationals in 2010, but there is no denying the team had more fire on the field after he took over on July 13.

Entering Thursday action, the Nationals are 28-42 after the All-Star Break. General manager Mike Rizzo said Riggleman is a legitimate candidate for the permanent job.  

“I think Riggleman really did a good job handling the ballclub after the All-Star break,” Rizzo said. “I think he put us on pace to really focus and bare down on the fundamentals of the game — to play cleaner and more efficient ballgames. He had the players playing at a high level. I think he has done the best job he could with the ability level that he has.”

Rizzo did not say when he will make his decision about a permanent manager, but the search will not be as intensive compared to when the Nationals were looking for a manager after they dismissed Frank Robinson after the 2006 season.

“This is the evaluating time of the year. We are all being evaluated, Jim including. Jim has done a great job. It’s going to be an intense offseason and a busy one,” Rizzo said. “The ultimate goal is to make us a better ball club.”

Riggleman, who was an interim manager of the Mariners last year, has not had an formal interview with Washington, pointing out that he is being judged on the field.

“After going through it last year, I don’t make any assumptions. I know that I love to manage,” Riggleman said. “As I said before, the greatest thing to do in baseball is to play. You can’t play anymore. The next thing that really excite you is to manage. I love to manage, period.”

Unlike last offseason, Riggleman hasn’t made plans to get a  job with another team in case he doesn’t become the manager next year. Last winter, Riggleman became the bench coach of the Nationals even though he was a managerial candidate for the Mariners.

Tidbits from Nationals Park

Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman has not decided who will pitch against the Braves on Saturday afternoon. He cannot go with left-hander Ross Detwiler because the latter has been shut down for the rest of the season because he has reached his innings limit.

Riggleman said right-handers Marco Estrada or Zack Segovia could get the start, but the skipper hasn’t ruled out using a bullpen-by-committee in the game.

Outfielder/infielder Mike Morse has played his fourth position in as many days. He played third base on Saturday and started at first base, right field and left field the next three days respectively.