The Washington Post

Why Class AAA Syracuse coaches are with the Nationals now

Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Since last Friday, Class AAA Syracuse Manager Tony Beasley, hitting coach Troy Gingrich and pitching coach Greg Booker have been with the Nationals. They wear uniforms, travel with the team and, like normal, coach. It’s standard practice that when the minor league season ends, the Class AAA coaches spend the final month of the season with the big league club.

It allows the Class AAA coaches to serve as a fresh fountain of advice for Nationals coaches and players, especially the ones who were called up to the majors for the first time.

“The team is in a pennant race, we could be in the way, extra bodies, just crowding up the clubhouse and things,” said Beasley, who served as a Nationals third base coach in 2006. “I try to stay out of everybody’s way and try not to disrupt what guys do on a daily basis. If there’s anything I can do to add or help or be available just to be a staff member or player.”

The coaches, so far, have lent a hand by hitting ground balls or throwing batting practice. They look for signs and watch opposing pitchers and share thoughts on anything they see. Mostly, they’ve served as a fresh set of eyes for players.

When Jayson Werth was playing in Syracuse on a rehab assignment for his broken wrist, he worked with hitting coach Troy Gingrich to find his timing. And when Werth wanted a refresher Saturday during a long rain delay, he was in the Nationals video room with Gingrich. (Werth, after going 0 for 4 until then, hit a dramatic game-tying home run in the first at-bat following the rain delay.)

Beasley, Gingrich and Booker are also comforting voices for players called up in September, such as catcher Sandy Leon, reliever Christian Garcia and outfielders Eury Perez and Corey Brown. Of those three, Perez and Garcia made their major league debuts this month.

“It’s good, especially for the guys that came up from AAA, to be with those guys,” Beasley said. “The big league routine is a little different, yes. But I’ve been here before. It’s just an honor. I’ve never been in the scenario where the team is in first place and really fighting to get into the playoffs.”

The Class AAA coaches are also sounding boards for rookies who have been with the team for most or all of the season, such as Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Ryan Mattheus. Beasley was the manager of Class AA Harrisburg in 2011 before being promoted to Syracuse.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to see them since spring training,” Lombardozzi said. “Just being able to see them and hang out and catch up and also I’ve played for both of them — [Tony] Beasley and Troy [Gringrich] — so they know me as a player and as a person. They’ll see some things here and there, or throw some things out there because they remember me. It’s awesome. It’s just another couple bodies to pick brains and to get some more information out of.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.
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