The Nationals finalized their 2021 coaching staff today, filling the one vacancy that hadn’t yet been publicly announced with one of the longest-tenured members of their organization.
Randy Knorr, who has been a player, coach or minor league manager with the Nats franchise since 2001 in Montreal, will join the big league staff for the fourth time in the last decade-plus, serving as first base coach for the first time.
Bob Henley, after a one-year stint at first base, will move back to the third base coaching position he held from 2014-19, replacing Chip Hale. Hale and pitching coach Paul Menhart end up as the only two members of Davey Martinez’s 2020 staff who won’t return next season.
The Nationals already announced their pitching coach change last week when Martinez hired longtime colleague and former Astros, Rays and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey.
Everyone else from the 2020 staff returns to the same positions: bench coach Tim Bogar, hitting coach Kevin Long (who initially was told he could talk to other clubs but wound up returning on a one-year deal), assistant hitting coach Pat Roessler and bullpen coach Henry Blanco.
Though he hasn’t been on Martinez’s big league staff previously, Knorr has known the manager since their playing days and has worked closely with him the last three seasons as Triple-A manager. Martinez often trusted Knorr’s opinion over anyone else’s when deciding which players to promote from Syracuse or Fresno to D.C.
For all he’s done in the sport, though, Knorr has never coached first base before. After retiring from his catching career with the Expos following the 2004 season, he accepted an offer to manage the Nationals’ low Single-A Savannah club in 2005 (one that briefly featured newly drafted third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the roster).
Knorr, 51, has spent the last decade and a half serving in just about every role imaginable: Single-A Potomac manager (2006-08), big league bullpen coach (2009), Double-A Harrisburg manager (2010), big league bench coach (2012-15), senior adviser for player development (2016-17), Triple-A Syracuse manager (2011 and 2018), Triple-A Fresno manager (2019-20). He even finished out the 2006 season as Nationals bullpen coach after John Wetteland was fired for (among other things) setting off fireworks in the bullpen at RFK Stadum.
Only Henley, 47, has a longer tenure among current Nationals employees, and is now set to begin his 27th season with the franchise, his 19th as a coach and eighth on the major league staff. After taking some (usually good-natured) criticism for his aggressive style as third base coach from 2014-19, Henley was moved to first base this season. Now he returns to his original position, replacing Hale.