GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Mariners bench coach Manny Acta can be found on the phone in the stands behind home plate this week at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco when his beloved Aguilas Cibaenas from the Dominican Republic are on the field during the Caribbean Series.A baseball general manager's job
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Mariners bench coach Manny Acta can be found on the phone in the stands behind home plate this week at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco when his beloved Aguilas Cibaenas from the Dominican Republic are on the field during the Caribbean Series.
A baseball general manager's job is a busy one, and Acta knows this fact first-hand. He's the GM of the Aguilas.
"I've done the managing and the on-the-field stuff for so long that I thought it was important for me to do the other side," said Acta, who managed the Nationals and the Indians. "I also wanted to show the people in baseball that besides coaching and managing, that I could do something else."
Baseball, whether it's on the field, in the dugout or team building in the front office, is Acta's passion. It's a big reason he's become a baseball legend in the Dominican Republic and why some believe he could be a big league manager again.
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"In my opinion, he's the best MLB manager that is not presently managing in the game," Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "I know he had some tough circumstances in his previous managerial jobs and there are only 30 jobs out there, but I do think that Manny can do it. I, for one, would like to see him get another opportunity."
In addition to his big league managerial experience, Acta also has had coaching jobs with the Expos and Mets. He's been a player, manager and general manager in the Dominican Republic's winter league.
"Manny has been through so much in baseball," Dipoto said. "He is calm. He is very smart. He's a very good baseball person. I know he is very passionate and emotional about the game."
Acta was hired as the Mariners' third base coach in 2015 and moved to bench coach last October.
"What was important for us was taking Manny's experience and getting it to the dugout," Dipoto said. "He was already running a good deal of the bench-coach duties, and the one thing we didn't let him do was influence the in-game situations. But by bringing him to the dugout, he's a natural source. He's an ally and a trusted voice."
Acta has won winter league titles as manager and general manager of the Tigres del Licey club and this year as GM with the Aguilas. He's also managed the Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Republic and the Caracas team in Venezuela. Acta managed the Dominican Republic team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
"The Licey team came after me five years ago, and they felt like I could do that type of [front-office job] and I fell in love with it," Acta said. "It's something that down the road I feel I could help somebody by being an assistant GM or something like that in case I am not on the field."
Acta, who began working with the Aguilas in 2016, has been on both sides of the Licey-Aguilas rivalry. He calls their matchups "must-see" for all baseball fans.
"Those are the two winningest teams in the Caribbean, basically," Acta said. "One team has 22 championships and the other has 21. It's like the Yankees and Red sox. Caracas and Magallanes [in Venezuela]. It's at that level."
This year's Aguilas squad could add to its long list of accomplishments. The team qualified for Wednesday's semifinal game with a win against Cuba on Monday and snapped an 11-game losing streak in Caribbean Series play Sunday. Some believe the primary reason for the recent losing streak was the lack of participation from the country's best players.
"I think sometimes people think the guys come here to have a good time, and that's the reason for losing," Dominican Republic manager Lino Rivera said. "But this is a very difficult tournament. Our guys are here to do great things. We want to win the championship."
A Caribbean Series title would be the sixth for the Aguilas and 20th championship for the country. Win or lose, Acta will be in the stands watching all of the action unfold.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.