Nats finalize coaching staff
The Nationals finalized their coaching staff today. Hitting Coach Rick Eckstein, Pitching Coach Steve McCatty and Third Base Coach Pat Listach will return in the same roles in 2010. The club also named John McLaren bench coach, Jim Lett bullpen coach and Dan Radison first base coach.
Eckstein returns for a second season in Washington. He played an instrumental part in reshaping the offense and it 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 the Nationals Triple-A pitching coach for four seasons before being summoned to Washington on June 2. McCatty employed numerous pre-existing 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-May 31, 4.69 ERA from June 2 through season’s end).
Listach will return for a second season as Nationals 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.
McLaren, 58, will draw on 22 seasons of Big League coaching experience, including a stint as Mariners manager for portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He replaced Mike Hargrove as Seattle’s manager on July 2, 2007. While skippering the Mariners, McLaren hired Riggleman as his bench coach in 2008.
McLaren worked on Lou Piniella’s staff for 15 seasons, and also enjoyed stewardships under Mike Hargrove, Cito Gaston, Jimy Williams and Joe Morgan. He has experienced five postseasons, including four division titles (Toronto in 1989 and Seattle in ’95, ’97 and 2001). McLaren spent the 2009 campaign as a Rays special assignment scout. He also served as Team USA’s bench coach during the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
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.
Lett joins the Nationals after spending the previous two years coaching in Milwaukee’s Minor League system. Lett has worked in professional baseball for each of the last 35 seasons as a player, coach, manager or front office executive. Lett is also a highly respected catching instructor.
The 59 year-old Radison begins his third tour with Riggleman, as the two worked together during Riggleman’s managerial stays in San Diego and Chicago (NL). 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.
He spent the previous three seasons as the Cardinals Minor League Hitting Instructor. While there, Radison worked closely with Eckstein, and helped Rick Ankiel (as a hitter), Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus graduate to St. Louis.