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Nationals manager Manny Acta names 2007 coaching staff11/21/2006 2:56 PM ET
The Washington Nationals today completed their 2007 coaching staff by hiring six gentlemen who bring energy, experience, familiarity and diverse baseball backgrounds to the club's dugout and clubhouse.
The Nationals announced that hitting coach Mitchell Page and pitching coach Randy St. Claire will return in the same roles in 2007. Page and St. Claire will join bench coach Pat Corrales, third-base coach Tim Tolman, first-base coach Jerry Morales and bullpen coach Rick Aponte to complete the coaching staff. Nationals Manager Manny Acta made the announcements.
Page, 55, returns for a second season as Nationals hitting coach. In his first year tutoring Washington hitters, the Nationals plated a franchise-record 741 runs -- 107 more than the season prior -- despite playing half their games in pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium. Alfonso Soriano (franchise-record 46 home runs and 89 extra-base hits), Nick Johnson (ranked among NL leaders in doubles, walks, on-base percentage and OPS) and Ryan Zimmerman (20 home runs and franchise rookie-record 110 RBIs) highlight those who thrived under Page's watchful eye. Page joined the Nationals as Minor League hitting coordinator in 2005 after serving the previous three seasons (2002-04) as hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Page's Cardinals included Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds. Page, who also served as Kansas City's first-base coach from 1995-97, enjoyed an eight-year big-league career with Oakland (1977-83) and Pittsburgh (1984), during which he batted .266 with 72 home runs and 259 RBIs in 673 big-league contests. He was named AL Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News in 1977 after hitting .307 with 21 home runs and 75 RBIs and 42 stolen bases for the Athletics.
The Nationals announced on October 16 that the 46 year-old St. Claire would be retained. The 2007 season will be St. Claire's fifth as the franchise's big-league pitching coach. Last season, while working with a franchise-record 29 pitchers, St. Claire made his mark with a number of youngsters, including Jon Rauch, Mike O'Connor, Ryan Wagner and Saul Rivera.
His work with Gary Majewski and Bill Bray afforded the Nationals the opportunity to acquire a trio of talented players under the age of 26 -- Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Wagner -- from Cincinnati. In four seasons as pitching coach, St. Claire has resurrected the career of Livan Hernandez and cultivated the considerable talents of Luis Ayala, John Patterson and Chad Cordero, among others. Prior to being named pitching coach on December 4, 2002, St. Claire tutored pitchers for seven seasons in the Minor Leagues, including the final five in the Expos organization. In nine big-league seasons, he finished 12-6 with nine saves and a 4.14 ERA in 162 games with Montreal, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Atlanta and Toronto.
Corrales brings seemingly limitless experience to Acta's staff, as his initial season with the Nationals will be his 49th in baseball. The 65-year-old Corrales comes to Washington after serving the previous 17 seasons on Bobby Cox's staff in Atlanta, the past eight as bench coach. There, he helped Cox's Braves record a staggering 14 consecutive NL East titles and a World Championship in 1995. Besides his obvious experience in the NL East -- only Cox has managed and/or coached in the NL East longer -- Corrales will lend expertise and knowledge gained during nine seasons as a big-league manager. Corrales posted a 572-634 record while skippering Texas (1978-80), Philadelphia (1982-83) and Cleveland (1983-87). He has coached in seven All-Star Games. A catcher in his playing days, Corrales played in 300 games over nine seasons with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati and San Diego.
Tolman, 50, joins the Nationals staff after serving four seasons (2003-06) as Cleveland's Minor League Field Coordinator. An outfielder, Tolman played in parts of seven big-league seasons with Houston (1981-85) and Detroit (1986-87). Upon retiring, Tolman managed at every level in the Astros Minor League system from 1991-96 before joining Houston's Scouting Department in both pro and amateur capacities from 1997-2002. It was while managing in the Astros chain that Tolman came across Acta, who was a fellow Minor League skipper in Houston's system. Tolman also managed a pair of campaigns (1993-94, 1995-96) for Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.
Like Acta, Morales returns to the franchise for the first time since 2004, the Expos final season in Montreal. Morales served as Expos first-base coach from 2002-04. Morales also coordinated the Expos' defensive outfield alignment for three seasons, including a pair of 83-win campaigns (2002, '03). A native of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Morales has worked in scouting and player development for the Cubs (Minor League hitting coordinator and outfield roving instructor from 1984-86) and Dodgers (Puerto Rican scout from 1987-90). He was a coaching staple in the Puerto Rican Winter League from 1986-2002, including a two-year stint as San Juan's manager (1999-2000). A 1977 NL All-Star, Morales hit .259 with 199 doubles, 95 home runs and 570 RBIs during a long and fruitful 15-year big-league career with San Diego, Chicago (NL), St. Louis, Detroit and New York (NL).
Aponte, 50, joins Manny Acta's coaching staff after spending the previous 32 seasons with the Houston Astros organization, the last 26 as either a Minor League instructor or scout. After pitching in Houston's chain for six seasons, Aponte began his coaching career in 1981 at Sarasota of the Class A Florida State League. Aponte served the Astros in a variety of roles during more than a quarter century of service, including a decade of coaching in the United States at various levels. In 1993, Aponte returned to the Dominican Republic, where he has either managed or performed pitching-coach duties for the Astros' Dominican Summer League entry.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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