A conversation with Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson has done a lot in baseball, maybe as much as anyone else, but yesterday he did something new in the game: He walked through the basement of Nationals Park.
Robinson attended a Nationals game yesterday for only the second time since he departed from his job as Nationals manager on contentious terms after the 2006 season. He came back in 2008 when the Nationals had their new park, but he had not been down in the bowels of the place before yesterday.
Robinson was at the game in his role with the commissioner's office. Yesterday, he stopped to chat for a few minutes about his job, the Nationals and his feelings toward the organization:
NJ: What's it like to be back?
Well, it feels good to come to this ballpark, because I saw only the blueprints of it. It was very exciting seeing it on paper, and now to see it in person underneath. I came here in person the first year and I saw it upstairs and in the boxes, and I saw the field. It's very exciting to be down here and see the clubhouse. It's impressive, very impressive.
NJ: What brings you here today?
I'm visiting the club. I'm spearheading the commissioner's office on diversity on the baseball side. We handled it on the business side. Now he wants it to be overall with the baseball side of it, the front office and throughout the system for baseball.
Can you describe what that entails?
It entails looking at the numbers of minorities in the organization and what positions they hold and the authority they have, decision-making, things like that. The numbers in certain areas. If you have 25 people on your staff in the minor leagues and only have one or two minorities, that's not a good number. It's just to remind them and to point it out to them that they have to do better. I'm not here to tell them who to hire and who to fire. I just want to remind that the commissioner would like an even playing field, and over time they should do better at their hiring of minorities in the organization.
From a baseball standpoint, as you watch this Nationals team, what do you think about how they've developed?
Well, they have come a long way. I think they're headed in the right direction. They talked about it for a long time, going with young players, the youth, building from within, and I think they're finally on the right track doing that. From what I see, there's a lot of good talent here. Having the No. 1 draft choice two years in a row is going to help. The main thing is, they also signed them. They shied away from them before. With that kind of talent in the organization, you're going to have a chance in time.
This ballclub is an exciting ballclub right now. They mix in speed, power. Fundamentally sound defensively. A couple young pitchers there. And also the old man out there, Livan, he's amazing. He's always been that way. I think he's in the best shape he's ever been in his career, maybe other than the first year he came over. He's got a rubber arm. I can excited when I see him in the condition that he's in right now. I just think this ballclub is going to play a lot of good, exciting baseball.
How do you feel about your relationship with the Nationals at this point?
I don't have any animosity toward the Nationals. I'm a person, I played the game one way. I gave my all. I felt like I was wronged even as a player. I just felt I was not treated the right way leaving here -- not being fired, but not treated the right way here. I was upset about it, bitter about it. But over the few years that have passed now, that's gone. I have no animosity toward the Nationals. It's going to be a good organization. A very good organization. I hold no grudges.
FROM THE POST
The Nationals weren't happy about losing two straight, and they used that to focus and make sure they didn't lose a third straight game for the first time this year. With Livan Hernandez doing just enough and Ian Desmond driving in clutch runs, the Nats beat the Braves 6-3.
Stephen Strasburg finished Phase I of his development, to no one's surprise.
Since the Nationals are winning, their scoreboard malfunction doesn't count as proof of organizational incompetence, Dan Steingberg writes. But it's still pretty funny.
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Columbus 7, Syracuse 5: Jason Bergmann allowed two hits in two scoreless innings. Ron Villone allowed three earned runs on four hits and a walk. Josh Whitesell went 2 for 2 with two walks and a home run.
Bowie 9, Harrisburg 0: Mike Daniel and Danny Espinosa both singled, two of just three hits by the Senators. Jeff Mandel allowed four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Myrtle Beach 9, Potomac 1: Jose Lozada went 2 for 4.
Hagerstown 11, Rome 5: Steven Souza went 2 for 3 with a triple and a walk. Justin Bloxom went 2 for 5 with a triple. Paul Demny allowed one run on two hits and three walks while striking out five in 5 2/3 innings.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Bryce Harper's college coach may become a bird-dog scout for the Nationals, Jon Heyman writes.
The Nationals keep finding ways to win, Nats Insider says.
Stan Kasten was on hand as some U.S. Senators honored Braves Manager Bobby Cox, writes Bill Ladson.
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