One of the weirdest, wackiest footnotes of this magical Nats season is that, barely more than a year ago, the team had another manager. Who voluntarily walked away from the organization, just as it was starting to blossom.
But Riggleman, who’s spent the season as the manager of the AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos, was recently on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio with hosts Ed Randall and Rico Petrocelli. And while he mostly talked about player development, working with youngsters, and his current roster, he was also asked about leaving the Nats.
Riggleman declined to talk about his departure, saying that should be left in the past, but he had high praise for the Nats.
“I really have no hard feelings toward anybody,” Riggleman said. “It’s a fine organization. Great talent in the organization. They’ve done a great job of scouting and player development. So many great instructors over there right now. I think they’re really getting it right, in terms of their minor league system and getting players ready to play in the big leagues.
“So it happened, and it was building,” Riggleman said of his departure. “I made my decision, and I live with it. As I’ve said to people many times — and I knew when I made my decision — in my opinion it [was] the right thing to do. It’s not the smart thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do. So I did it, and I move on, and we’ll see where we go from here.”
Riggleman was then asked if he takes pride in the Nats’ 2012 season, and the way they’ve risen to the top of baseball.
“Well, you know, I’ll tell you, I was connected to the team last year,” Riggleman said. “This is a different team. I think they have the basis for how you win ballgames: They’ve got great pitching. And everybody’s trying to do that. Atlanta did that with their guys back in the day, just ran great pitchers out there. Back in Rico’s day, the Orioles [had] that great pitching that they ran out there.
“And Washington’s been able to do that with some pitchers who are there [now]. I wasn’t connected to those guys. The pitchers I was connected to, some of the guys that are in the bullpen now were there. But it was John Lannan and Livan Hernandez and Jason Marquis, those guys. The pitching staff that they have now, it’s a different staff. I don’t have my hands on that at all.”
Riggleman also said that the sense of competition he gets from minor-league baseball isn’t any different than what he experienced in the big leagues.
“I’ve found that when that umpire says play ball here in the Southern League, those same feelings are there,” he said. “It’s not ho-hum. You’re thinking strategy, you’re thinking about what you have to say to a player and preparing for the next inning as you go out to coach third base. So it’s been very inspiring for me, and I’ve enjoyed it.”