Third Base Coach Makes Tough Calls

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 5, 2007

In the past two weeks, Washington Nationals third base coach Tim Tolman had pitcher Jason Bergmann thrown out at the plate in Philadelphia, a play on which Bergmann strained his left hamstring. He held up catcher Brian Schneider on a play most of the folks at RFK Stadium felt was an easy run. And he had infielder Felipe Lopez slow up as he came into third, when Tolman was planning to send him home. Lopez was thrown out.

"You may go two, three weeks where you don't have any decisions," Tolman said yesterday. "And then you might go the next two, three weeks and you have to make 20. That's just how it works."

Manager Manny Acta hired Tolman, for whom he played and coached in the minors. The former major league outfielder spent the past four years as a minor league field coordinator in the Cleveland organization, and hadn't coached third base since his days as a minor league manager in 1996.

"I think it's gone well," Tolman said. "Anybody that goes out onto the field is not immune to having mistakes happen. . . .

"If you're 100 percent right the whole time, if nobody got thrown out at home plate, you didn't do a very good job. You have to be aggressive."

Cards Shuffle Lineup

St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa shook up his lineup by taking the unusual step of batting pitcher Joel Piñiero eighth with second baseman Adam Kennedy batting ninth. La Russa used this tactic 76 times in 1998.

"If something's not working, why keep doing the same thing?" La Russa said. The decision, he said, had nothing to do with Piñiero. "It's all about getting a position player in the nine spot for a second leadoff hitter." . . .

Sixth-round draft pick Jack McGeary, a high school pitcher from Massachusetts, visited with Nationals officials and met players during batting practice. Neither club officials nor the McGeary family would comment. McGeary is committed to Stanford, and most club officials feel he will honor that commitment.

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