41-year old Randy Knorr has been around baseball all his life, appeared in the 1993 World Series while with Toronto, and brings to the table a wealth of knowledge as a player, coach and manager.
Knorr was a major league catcher for the Astros, Bluejays, Rangers, Marlins and Expos. Now he has a new challenge before him with the Nationals.
After coaching for the Nats in the bullpen last season, The team signed him to become the manager for their Double A affiliate, Harrisburg Senators. He managed the Potomac Nationals to the Mills Cup title in 2008.
I had a chance to speak with Randy as he visited family in Seattle and we talked about his upcoming assignment.
On being named manager at Harrisburg:
“I am going to love it. I like managing and developing players. I have a voice. Sometimes in the bullpen you feel kind of removed from everything. I missed that part of managing. I am looking forward to managing for the Senators.”
On his experience in Potomac as he heads to Harrisburg:
“Potomac had a fantastic season (when I was there). Double A, especially this league is so competitive. Essentially every team has their best prospects at the Double A level and that allows the Triple A team to sign free agents.
I will see some of the guys I had at Potomac at one time and that will help. We have a tentative roster about 70 percent filled, so I will talk more about each individual player as we get closer to the season.”
A couple of notes on some Nats prospects from Randy:
OF Michael Burgess:
“He is very young and has a bright future. He can swing. We want to develop him into a hitter. He is above where he should be defensively.”
1B Chris Marrero:
He can flat out hit the ball. He has a good approach. We want to concentrate on his defense at Harrisburg. I would like Chris to become the complete player. I don’t want him to get to the majors just as a hitter because he could do that, he is that good. I want him also to be good defensively so three to five years down the line (he will have staying power) at the major league level.”
On Double A baseball:
“It is a breaking point for a lot of players. When a player moves from Single A to Double A it is the biggest jump. If a player has a really good season in Double A he can play in the big leagues.
Double A is not about your stance or your mechanics for the most part. It is more about how you think when you face a pitcher. What is your approach going to be. Mechanics should be refined by the time you reach this level. You can really define how good a player will be with how they perform in Double A.
Our job at the minor league level is to get the player to their full potential. We pinpoint the faults and hammer on them.”
Do you think you will manage Stephen Strasburg or Drew Storen in Harrisburg?
“It would be awesome to get the chance to manage Stephen. It might be more of me getting him to concentrate on the on field stuff and protecting him from the media.
As for Drew, he pretty much dominated Double A and might not have anything left to prove at this level. I believe how Drew performs in spring training will determine where he starts the season.”
Tell me about your coaching staff which includes Randy Tomlin and Troy Gingrich:
“Randy and Troy are great coaches, I am very lucky to have them on the staff. I really like utilizing my coaches. I like to have all the information in front of me and that helps us learn and prepare every day.
These coaches are very well prepared to help our players. I have worked with both of these coaches in the past. We know each other very well. They are outstanding and they communicate well with the players.”
Jim Riggleman thinks very highly of Randy and the job he has done. He says Knorr is a great asset to the Nationals organization.
“Randy did a great job for us again last year. He will be a very good manager for Harrisburg and I believe he has a future as a major league manager.
Randy is a real sponge (when it comes to acquiring baseball knowledge). He absorbs all the information and takes it all in. He loves to talk baseball all the time and gives his opinion on particular plays. He is kind of a throwback baseball guy.
Randy is humble. Even with all his experience, Randy feels he can still learn about baseball from others. We always go over certain situations and have a nice give and take. He watches everything on the field. He does not miss anything.
He also is not trying to be the players buddies, which is something that happens to younger managers on occasion. He knows his most important job is teaching these players and get them ready for the majors.”
I asked Jim Riggleman about the possibility of picking up another starting pitcher in the free agent market. He told me he feels that might be something that will wait until they are well underway in Viera.