Nats Name 3 Coaches To Staff

By Barry Svrluga and Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 13, 2006

Even as they continue discussions with free agent outfielder Sammy Sosa, the Washington Nationals filled out all but one position on their coaching staff yesterday when they named Mitchell Page hitting coach, Tony Beasley third base coach and Davey Lopes first base coach. The moves, dictated by General Manager Jim Bowden, were designed to add energy to Manager Frank Robinson's staff.

"I think we accomplished that, 100 percent," Bowden said yesterday. "We're very excited about each one of these guys."

Page, 54, served as a roving instructor in the Nationals' minor league system last season. He was the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals from midway through 2001 until the end of 2004, when the team won the National League pennant. The Cardinals put up prodigious numbers during that time -- leading the NL in hitting and runs scored in 2004 -- but Page was dismissed immediately after the end of the World Series and entered an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Page had a "no-tolerance" clause for alcohol use in his contract last year, and that policy will continue during his stint with the major league club. He will try to revitalize an offense that placed last in the NL in almost every major category in 2005.

"I know his success from afar," Robinson said. "I know what he did in the minors, where people gave him high praise, and watching the success the Cardinals had. I know he didn't hit for them. He had some talent. But he definitely had something to do with it."

Page replaces one of Robinson's closest friends, Tom McCraw. McCraw, though, may be close to returning to the organization as a scout who evaluates hitters, both for the draft and for potential trades.

Bowden said Lopes, 60, was hired in large part to improve the Nationals' base running. Lopes stole 557 bases in his 16-year major league career and will work with a Nationals group that was last in the majors in stolen bases a year ago.

"We want to get more aggressive," Bowden said.

Lopes, though, also adds a presence that could make things uncomfortable for Robinson. Lopes, who most recently served as the first base coach for the San Diego Padres, managed the Milwaukee Brewers for just more than two seasons, and he could be seen as a manager-in-waiting should the Nationals stumble.

"Davey's a good baseball man," Robinson said yesterday.

Beasley, 39, had a stellar managerial career in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system where he posted a .590 winning percentage and reached the postseason all five years. He coached third base in that capacity, and Bowden called him "a future star -- not only as a major league coach, but as a manager."

The trio joins two holdovers from Robinson's staff, pitching coach Randy St. Claire and bench coach Eddie Rodriguez. The Nationals still must hire a bullpen coach.

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