The Washington Nationals filled the vacant position on Manager Matt Williams’ coaching staff by promoting Bobby Henley, who has served as the minor league field coordinator for the past four years, to major league third base coach. The position was left vacant after Trent Jewett was hired by the Seattle Mariners as their bench coach. By promoting Henley, the Nationals opted to stay within the system to fill out the 2014 coaching staff, which will have only one new face outside the organization (defensive coordination and advance coach Mark Weidemaier).
Henley, 40, who has spent nearly his entire baseball life in the Expos/Nationals organization, was considered one of the organization’s best minor league instructors. The Alabama native and catcher was drafted in the 26th round of the 1991 draft and made his major league debut for the Expos in 1998 at 25 years old. He played 41 games that season and hit .304. He then injured his arm, was cut by the Expos in 2001 and didn’t return to baseball until 2002 as a minor leaguer in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. After playing only one game for the Pirates’ Class A affiliate, the Expos offered Henley a position to manage the rookie ball team in 2003 and he accepted.
Henley stayed with the organization when it moved to Washington and has served in various capacities in the minor leagues. He managed the team’s Gulf Coast League team in 2009 and was the spring training catching coordinator. He was also an extra coach in the majors in September 2006. He has managed Class A Savannah and Class A Potomac, and coached at the rookie ball level. He has served as the minor league field coordinator since 2010 and helped keep everyone on time at spring training in Viera by blowing the bullhorn.
“I’ve been here almost 20 years,” Henley said. “I consider it family. It’s not just a job to me. I’ve been here so long I love the people from the top all way down to the bottom. It’s just an honor and I’m thrilled to fill a position they want me to. I’m happy as anything.”
After Williams was hired, Henley took part in a conference call about spring training with several of the system’s coaches. But soon after, Jewett was hired by the Mariners and Henley was contacted about the vacant third base coach position. He said he spoke with Williams at length on Monday night. Williams called back on Tuesday morning to offer the position and Henley said he was “tickled to death” to accept it.
“The fact that this is the only organization I’ve really known I think makes it more special,” said Henley of his first ever major league coaching job. “I’ve had a chance to see a lot of the guys come up from through the system and up to the big leagues. We’ve got a lot of guys that will be up soon, too. I’m really happy and excited just to be a part of it.”
Henley has spent some time coaching third while managing in the minor leagues and, echoing Williams’ thoughts on being aggressive on the base paths, said his “philosophy is scoring runs. I just want to be the eyes for the guys and let them play instinctually.”
Henley will become the third former catcher on the Nationals’ coaching staff. Randy Knorr (bench coach) and Matt LeCroy (the new bullpen coach) were all also former major league catchers.
The complete 2014 Nationals coaching staff is listed below:
Matt Williams — Manager
Randy Knorr — Bench coach
Rick Schu — Hitting coach
Steve McCatty — Pitching coach
Tony Tarasco — First base coach
Bobby Henley — Third base coach
Matt LeCroy — Bullpen coach
Mark Weidemaier — Defensive coordination and advance coach