At 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, former Nationals coach Trent Jewett stood on the warning track and leaned on the railing of the visitors dugout at Safeco Field. Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty sat in the dugout, chatting with him. Shortstop Ian Desmond walked up from the tunnel and, by way of saying hello, rubbed Jewett’s back.
In his first series against his old team, Jewett will play a significant role. Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon will miss Friday and Saturday to attend his daughter’s wedding in Indiana. Jewett, who left the Nationals to serve as McClendon’s bench coach, will take over as manager for the first two games of the series.
“I’ll try to do what he would want done, the way he would do it,” Jewett said.
Jewett has known McClendon since 1996, when they worked together in the Pirates’ farm system. The Nationals kept their coaching staff together even with the arrival of Manager Matt Williams. Jewett interviewed for the Nationals’ managerial position and impressed Nationals brass, but he lost out to Williams.
When the Mariners hired McClendon, the Mariners reached out to Jewett. He would have stayed with the Nationals if not for the opportunity McClendon offered.
“There’s not a whole lot of things in baseball that would have taken me out of that situation, if it were up to me,” Jewett said. “Lloyd McClendon is one of them. There’s a lot of things that I miss and a lot of people that I miss and a lot of relationships that I built that will always remain with me. But I had special relationship with Lloyd. I had an idea what he would expect me. I knew what I could expect from him. It was just an opportunity that was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
When Jewett left, he called Desmond and Jayson Werth and each member of the coaching staff. He enjoyed the five years he spent with the Nationals, starting out as Class A Potomac’s manager and moving up to third base coach by 2013. Players revered Jewett for his attention to detail and players-first approach. During batting practice, he chatted with Danny Espinosa, whom he managed at Class AAA Syracuse in 2010.
“I miss a lot of the relationships that were built,” Jewett said. “I talked to some of them throughout the year. That’s a great clubhouse. I know that. It’s run by some tremendous people. There’s a lot of things that I miss, and I see a lot of the same traits over here.”