VIERA, Fla. - Tony Beasley, manager of the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., enters the home clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium 10 minutes before the scheduled start of a morning workout and makes a beeline for the corner packed with position players who will likely comprise the bulk of his Chiefs roster come opening day.
Beasley, who was promoted to Syracuse after managing at Double-A Harrisburg last year, works the line of lockers with the aplomb of a Capitol Hill lobbyist, pressing the flesh and chatting up his future charges. He's got a bat slung over his shoulder and his glove hanging on the edge of the bat.
"I think it's important to build relationships and get to know guys," said Beasley. "You get to know not only what they do on the baseball field, but what they can do as people. I've always believed, 'Invest in the man.' You build those relationships and you can have good dialogue back and forth.
First baseman Tyler Moore, outfielder Corey Brown, shortstop Carlos Rivero, infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir, infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen, outfielder Xavier Paul, outfielder Brett Carroll - all get a few seconds with Beasley. They might ask something about the day's schedule, or Beasley might inquire about something he saw in a previous workout.
Beasley makes his way to the far end of the line of locker stalls and stops to chat with catcher Jhonatan Solono, who's immersed in the heavy beat of a Latin song booming from the speakers in Michael Morse's locker next door. As a chair-bound Solano shimmies and shakes and mouths the lyrics, Beasley moves his shoulders to the beat.
"With me being in Triple-A, a lot of the guys who are potentially going to be with me are here," Beasley said. "There's a lot of guys I haven't had history with, so I like to extend myself."
And will Beasley learn Solano's song before the Chiefs open the International League season April 5 at home against Rochester?
"I don't think so," Beasley said with a chuckle. "I'll just let him have some fun with it."