Lopes to coach first base for Nationals
Former teammate of Baker was on Washington's staff in 2006
WASHINGTON -- Davey Lopes proved on Thursday that you can come home again. The Nationals hired Lopes as their new first-base coach, replacing Tony Tarasco. This will be Lopes' second stint with the club, as he had the same role in 2006 under then-manager Frank Robinson.
"When we announced to our players [about Lopes], they were extremely happy," general manager Mike Rizzo said.
The 2016 season will be Lopes' 30th as a coach, spending the past five years as the Dodgers' first-base coach. He is reunited with Dusty Baker, who was officialy introduced as Washington's manager on Thursday. Baker and Lopes were teammates with the Dodgers from 1976-81. Lopes is also the godfather of Baker's daughter, Natosha Baker.
"I know Dusty is energetic," Lopes said via telephone. "He has an outgoing personality. He is fun to be around. We expect the fun to become winning. He knows exactly what needs to be done to be successful."
Lopes will also be reunited with Jayson Werth, who credits Lopes with his success during the outfielder's four years in Philadelphia.
"Davey Lopes wasn't a hitting coach, but he is a baseball coach," Werth said in 2011. "He was really good [when it came to] my overall mentality toward the game and how to play the game. He was very instrumental and kind of molded me into the player I became [with the Phillies].
"Out of anybody, I would say Davey Lopes was probably the best coach I ever had. He is awesome."
With Lopes, the Nationals will get a new voice when it comes to running the bases and playing the outfield. Baserunning mistakes were a problem this past season, and the Nats were also down in the stolen-base department. After stealing 101 bases in 2014, Washington stole 57 bases and was caught 23 times in '15.
"We are going to run the bases," Baker said. "That's something that is probably last on the list on a lot of teams. Baserunning is probably the most overlooked part of baseball."
Lopes hopes the Nationals can be more aggressive in 2016.
"I want them to be ready if and when an opportunity presents itself. The only way you can do that is by being aggressive," Lopes said.
Lopes played in the Majors from 1972-87, including 10 seasons with the Dodgers. In '75, he swiped a Major League record 38 consecutive bases without getting caught, a mark which was broken by Vince Coleman in '88. Lopes recorded 557 career stolen bases.