Nats set coaching staff, add Tarasco to coach first base (Thurman joins Nats)

The Nationals have announced that Tony Tarasco has been added to Davey Johnson’s coaching staff for the 2013 season. Tarasco will serve as the first base coach.

Previously a roving outfield instructor/baserunning coordinator within the Nationals’ organization, Tarasco will replace Trent Jewett in the first base coach’s box. Jewett will move across the diamond and become third base coach, taking over for Bo Porter, who was hired as the Astros’ manager.

Johnson’s coaching staff is now officially set.

Randy Knorr returns as bench coach, Steve McCatty as pitching coach, Rick Eckstein as hitting coach and Jim Lett will remain bullpen coach. Tarasco and Jewett round out the staff.

In addition to coaching first base, Tarasco will instruct the Nationals’ outfielders. He played eight big league seasons as an outfielder with the Atlanta Braves (1993-94), Montreal Expos (1995), Baltimore Orioles (1996-97), Cincinnati Reds (1998), New York Yankees (1999) and New York Mets (2000).

Tarasco, you might remember, played under Johnson with the Orioles and was involved in that infamous play in right field at Yankee Stadium in the 1996 American League Championship Series when young fan Jeffrey Maier reached out into the field of play and brought Derek Jeter’s fly ball into the stands for a home run. It was Tarasco who was camped under the ball waiting to bring it in.

Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley was thought to be in the mix for a coaching job on Johnson’s staff, but the Nats needed someone to fill the roles that Porter handled. Beasley, a former minor league infielder, did not have experience coaching outfielders, so the Nationals apparently felt Tarasco was a better fit.

Update: The Nats have already found their replacement for Tarasco, hiring Gary Thurman to take over as their minor league outfield/baserunning coordinator.

Thurman spent 2012 as the Miami Marlins’ first base coach and also served as the club’s outfield and baserunning coach.

A former first-round pick of the Royals in the 1983 First-Year Player Draft, Thurman played 16 seasons, including nine in the big leagues. He has 14 years of experience as a manager, coach or instructor in professional baseball.

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