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Pirates' AAA Skipper Is Latest to Interview

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Washington Nationals have interviewed yet another candidate for their open managerial job, talking to Trent Jewett, the manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates' Class AAA affiliate, about becoming Frank Robinson's replacement.

Jewett was in town last week and met with both General Manager Jim Bowden and team president Stan Kasten. He is added to a list that includes at least two other candidates without major league managerial experience -- John Russell of the Philadelphia Phillies' farm system and Manny Acta of the New York Mets. It also is likely that there are other names under consideration that have not yet become public.

"I thought they had an excellent plan," Jewett said by phone yesterday. "They're very realistic as to where they are, but at the same time realistic and aggressive about where they want to go."

Jewett, 42, has been a manager since he was 28, when he took over the Pirates' short-season Class A affiliate in 1992. He has been an instructor in the Pittsburgh system ever since, managing two years at Class A, one at Class AA and nine at Class AAA. He also served three years as the Pirates' third base coach at the major league level, working under managers Gene Lamont and Lloyd McLendon.

"That was a valuable experience, because it lets you see the game at that speed," Jewett said. "You learn what motivates those players at that level, that it's different things that motivate different guys. It was an important step for me."

Like Russell, who manages in Class AAA for the Phillies, and Acta, who is the Mets' third base coach, Jewett feels as if he's ready for a major league job.

"You learn so many lessons along the way," Jewett said. "I've been at it a while, and fortunately was able to get in at a stage in my career where I was still young. So I've been doing it a while, and you observe the things that happen to you, as well as to others, and you try to take it all in and get better each year."

In two of the past four seasons, Jewett has taken his team to the championship series of the league in which he has managed -- in 2005 with Indianapolis of the International League and 2003 with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. This season, Indianapolis finished 76-66, losing a one-game playoff to get into the championship series. Jewett's record over 13 minor league seasons is 851-841.

"He's a guy who carries himself with a lot of confidence because he's done it for a long time, and he's had a lot of success," Pirates GM Dave Littlefield said yesterday by phone. "He has a good feel for the players, is a good evaluator and has a good feel for the pitching staff, which is obviously a key component in a manager."

Russell, who is managing winter ball in Venezuela, said yesterday he hadn't heard back from the Nationals after talking with Bowden and player personnel director Bob Boone on Friday. He's still hopeful of being called in for an interview.

Also believed to still be alive as potential candidates are New York Yankees first base coach Tony Peña, former major league manager Dusty Baker and Acta. Bowden has been mum about the search, saying only he would like to have a new manager in place by baseball's winter meetings, which begin Dec. 4.

Konichiwa, Schneider

Catcher Brian Schneider is the only National on a team of major leaguers that will begin a five-game competition against a team of Japanese all-stars today in Tokyo. Schneider, who worked out with the team last week in Phoenix before leaving Monday for Japan, said he jumped at the chance to play on the team.

"I don't know how many guys can say they've played and represented Major League Baseball in Japan," Schneider said by phone before he left. "It's three different stadiums, you get to see the country. It's another thing to say you've done, to add to the résumé."

The team includes several rivals from the National League East, including New York's David Wright and Jose Reyes, Atlanta's Andruw Jones and Philadelphia's Ryan Howard. Schneider is one of three catchers on the squad, joining Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Seattle's Kenji Johjima.

Schneider said he took a week off before he began hitting and throwing three times a week near his home in West Palm Beach, Fla.

"My body feels pretty good," he said. "I'm not limping around when I wake up in the morning like I was during the season."

Acta, who served as the Montreal Expos' third base coach when Schneider played in Montreal, is the third base coach for the MLB team.

"I've talked to him about it, but he hasn't said much," Schneider said of Acta's candidacy for the Nationals job. "The one thing he said was he's very excited. He loved the plan of new ownership. . . . He's a low-key guy. I think the guys would like to play for him." . . .

Outfielder Kory Casto, who has been named the Nationals' minor league player of the year the last two seasons, went 9 for 18 with two homers in his first five games in the Arizona Fall League before taking time off for his wedding and honeymoon. . . .

Right-hander Ramon Ortiz, who tied for the National League lead in losses during his one season in Washington, officially filed for free agency yesterday. Ortiz, who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning on Sept. 4 against St. Louis, went 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA.

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