Manny, a Man who will be Missed
As someone who spent a lot of time with Manny Acta over the last two and a half years, I have to say he was always a true professional and one of the most positive people I've ever met.
I appreciated his willingness to be candid and honest with me on a daily basis. He truly cared about his role with the Nationals and I'm sure it pains him that things did not work out here. There is no doubt in my mind he will manage again and he will be successful. Things happen for a reason and I wish him and his family only the best. He will be missed by many.
The Jim Riggleman Era
Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo told me the team hired Jim Riggleman as the interim manager because of his major league experience in the dugout and his tremendous attitude and respect for his craft and the game of baseball.
Riggleman didn't waste any time getting down to business on Thursday.
He spent part of the afternoon on the field, demonstrating some important infield details. That was before he met with the local media in his daily press conference. The Nats' new manager said he is not going to do things a lot differently from Manny Acta, but he admitted that improvements are necessary.
Players told me they expect him to be more stern, strict and disciplined. You'll notice the Nationals will wear their hats straight. They will have their batting practice shirts on when necessary and they will play the game right. Sometimes paying attention to detail on the small things can result in a better picture overall.
Department of Defense
When Riggleman took over the Mariners last June 19 as interim manager, Seattle was ranked 11th in the American League in fielding. During the 90 games that he was at the helm, the Mariners improved to 4th in the American League and finished the season 8th. Certainly this did not go unnoticed by the Nats front office.
It's not going to happen overnight, but there was some improvement on the field Thursday night for the hometown nine. Catcher Josh Bard felt the Nats played more aggressively. He said after the game, he'd rather see mistakes from being too aggressive and he felt that's what happened last night. He added that the players need to be accountable for the way the team continues to lose.
All in the Family and a Love of the Game
Riggleman grew up outside of Washington, D.C. in Rockville, Md. He is the second oldest of four boys. His older brother Mick told me thatrowing up, Jim would often want to skip family vacations so he could spend time playing baseball.
He also attended a lot of Senators games with his family. Mick revealed too that Jim is in the Frostburg State University Hall of Fame. While playing sports at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Jim excelled in both basketball and baseball.
His younger brother Mike said to me that one of his first non-paying jobs was working for his uncle Larry in the tobacco fields in North Carolina. He also worked as a caddy, as well as in construction, and he even worked in a local drug store. Having a strong work ethic is something his family instilled in him at a young age. His mom Virginia who turns 80 in August should be proud.