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Familiar faces in Cleveland

When the Washington Nationals begin their two-city, six-game road trip tonight in Cleveland, the team will get a chance to renew acquaintances with several former Nationals, most notably Indians Manager Manny Acta.

Acta held the same position with the Nationals for two and a half seasons before being replaced by Jim Riggleman. Acta was considered a players' manager, and many in the Washington clubhouse still have fond memories of his time here. Acta was dismissed after 87 games last season, when the Nationals were 26-61.

Another former Nationals player now with Cleveland is right fielder Austin Kearns, who played for Washington from 2006 through last season. Kearns this season is batting .303, which is considerably higher than his best season with the Nationals in 2007, when he hit .266.

"I see Anderson Hernandez is there now,"Jim Riggleman said of the Cleveland shortstop who played wtih Washington for part of last season. "I have some history with Kerry Wood. It'll be good to see Kerry. Austin Kearns, one of the finest people I've ever been around in the game. Just a real pro. I think the world of him, and I was really glad to see him land on his feet and doing so well."

While Kearns is thriving with his new team, the Indians are struggling overall. They are in last place in the AL Central with a 23-36 record, 11 1/2 games out of first.

"That being said, you have a respect for all the people, and you want good things for them, but it's from a distance," Riggleman said. "You can't really focus on it too much. It will be good to see them, get your hellos in and all that, and then it's gone. You're just competing and trying to win a ballgame."

By Gene Wang  |  June 11, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

AK may be having a better year, but he will have no chance on sunday...none, nada.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 11, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I think Willie Harris is using Kearns' locker this year.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | June 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm happy for Austin Kearns who simply never got over getting traded from Cincy and never adapted to DC.

I hope Acta gets fired by the All-Star Break.

Posted by: PNatsFan | June 11, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't think AK's problem was "not getting over" being traded to DC. He evidently had a serious thumb injury that didn't get treated, and that we didn't know about, until after he got traded. Too bad, because he'd look great in RF for us right now.

And I DON'T want to see Manny get fired. I'd prefer to see him turn things around in Cleveland.

Anyone know if he's gotten thrown out of a game yet this year?

Or even argued a call, for that matter?

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 11, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I utterly don't understand the hostility towards Manny. He's seems like a very smart baseball guy and a good person who has the theory that you can build a winning baseball team with a very heavy focus on the positive. He may be wrong. It's an interesting question that I wish Boswell or Kilgore or somebody would look into. But there is no reason for people to wish him ill.

Posted by: markfromark | June 11, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Well, Leo Durocher did some research on it. His conclusion: "Nice guys finish last."

OTOH, Walt Alston managed the Dodgers for many years, won a bunch of pennants and a few World Series, and by all accounts was a nice guy.

In one of his yearly Baseball Abstracts, Bill James did a profile of the managers in the bigs that year, examining their various traits, including whether they were easy to get along with or nose-to-the-grindstone types. For Billy Martin, he wrote, "Oh, yeah, a real sweetheart."

Posted by: gilbertbp | June 11, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

Agree with you that Kearns's problem was his inexplicable failure to fix his thumb during three seasons of throwing his bat into the 3B stands and ewatching his batting average plummet. OK, he's fixed his hand, playing better, good for him, but let's explore Michael Morse in RF, shall we? To me, his line shot to straightaway CF off Donnelly to insure the victory was the most impressive event in last night's game (with all due respect to Dunn's baserunning exploits).

Re Walter Alston, depends on your definition of "nice guy," I guess. As a rookie manager, Walter famously took control of the veteran-laden Dodgers' clubhouse in 1954 by challenging Jackie Robinson (yes, that Jackie Robinson) to a fistfight.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 11, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I don't wish Manny any ill will... but, I certainly can not predict he will ever turn things around in Cleveland... partially because of the situation... and, yes, partially because of his own managerial skill... definitely a nice guy, just not too sure he is a a great manager... great bench coach maybe, but the lack of fire definitely irked me...

As for Kearns, he is impossible not to like... I wish he had done what he is doing this year for the Nats... but, in the end, just glad to see his career is back on track... and the fact that it is with an AL team that we don't directly compete with makes it that much better!

Posted by: Ghost7 | June 11, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Gil,
The reason I and I think many of us hold a grudge against Acta is that he didn't really seem to do much as a manager. He was SO conservative, always seemed anti-stealing bases and anti sending the runner on an iffy play. He was SO stoic. You never saw emotion from the guy on a good play or a bad one. I don't think we ever saw him get in an umpires face, I don't think he ever shook a guys cage in the dugout.

I think the reason people were unhappy with Many is that we saw him as the kind of manager who lost games.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 11, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

"I don't think he ever shook a guys cage in the dugout."

Elijah Dukes.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I remember Manny getting in either Dukes or Milledge's face in the dugout. It was shown on ESPN.
just cause you don't see it in public, you have no idea what happens in the clubhouse.
manny has said he hopes the nats do well. Nats fans should wish him the same.

Posted by: patchss | June 11, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

May as well DH Pudge two games this weekend. We all know that Acta hates to steal, so it is a great way to get Pudge's bat in the lineup and some extra rest all at the same time. Let him catch the kid on Sunday, because he worked great with him on Tuesday.

Posted by: tcostant | June 11, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Anyone heard an update today on Strasburg's pitching schedule---18th or 19th??

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

gilbertbp - Leo Durocher was misquoted. He said of the cross-town rival Giants, "Take a look at them. They're all nice guys, but they'll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last."

alex35332 - agree 100%. That was exactly my problem with Manny. I always used to say, "If he were any more passive, he would be dead."

He didn't fight for his players on the field, and as far as I can tell from his interviews, there was no 'tough love', either. When players weren't performing, he just let them keep failing and made no effort to actually improve the team.

I don't miss Elijah Dukes, but I have to wonder if Manny Acta had a role in his failure to develop as a player.

Posted by: zaph | June 11, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

As far as Acta and Kearns, if you read any of the Indians Blogs you know that Ohio is already calling for Acta's head and wondering why he never sticks up for his players or argues a call. Sound familiar. And Kearns? He'll be back batting below .250 before the All Star break. Bank on it.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

As far as Strasburg goes, hey I've got tix for the 18th. I'd like to see him pitch. I can't go the 19th. But we're not talkin a month here, we're talkin one week and the Nats know and yet they won't say anything. The Post prints dates and then prints other news that contradicts that info. The Nats website has contradictory info based on the Nats. This is just disengenuous and dishonest. ANd for no other reason but to sell tickets. It really stinks. Just come out and say one way or the other, which game the guy will be pitching next week. Aint hard.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Strasburg'swith pitch 18th unless a rainout happens. Riggs says on the Sports Fix this week, that he will pitch every 5th day until July or even the all-star break.

Posted by: tcostant | June 11, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

dovelevine, pay attention and quit whinging. The Post, Goessling and Zuckerman have all reported that the Nats will be putting Strasburg on an every-fifth-day schedule until the All Star Break. That puts him on schedule to pitch the 18th and 23rd at home. Nothing has been said by anyone associated with the team that would contradict that. Of course, all it takes is one rainout or injury to mess up such a plan, which is why no team ever lists its probable starters more than a couple of days ahead of time. Strasburg's starts going forward will be no different.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 11, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@dove -- give it a rest, please. The Nats site is controlled by MLB. They erroneously posted late one night that SS would pitch on the 19th. Later, they fixed it and took out that part about SS.

Riggleman has been quoted, *QUOTED*, as saying he was putting SS on an every 5th (calendar) day schedule. Everyone knows that he's pitching Sunday the 13th. Even my Arlington County Public School education tells me that 13 + 5 = 18. So, SS is slated to pitch on the 18th. Is it me, or can it not be any clearer than that?!

Most of the time you bring a lot of quality questions in your posts, but lately you just seem to be Nancy Negative. The Nats just swept the Pirates, debuted their young phenom, drafted a player who hopefully will be the next phenom, the 3-4-5 batters are hitting with power (yes, even Dunn), the bullpen seems to be back on track (knock on wood), and now they're headed to Cleveland for three games with Atilano, Martin and Strasburg pitching. Can we cut out some of the negativity, please? For one day?

Posted by: erocks33 | June 11, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Nobody can turn things around in Cleveland. They traded back to back Cy Young guys with Sabathia and Lee. That is a joke of an organization.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 11, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

>>dovelevine, pay attention and quit whinging

Would love to. But unfortunately this was on the Nats website last night.
So you tell me.......

By Greg Rosenstein / MLB.com

06/10/10 8:10 PM ET

* Detwiler impresses in first rehab start
* Riggleman gives Morgan day off
* Prospect Burgess makes All-Star team

WASHINGTON -- TBS will show this Sunday's road game between the Nationals and Indians, Stephen Strasburg's second career start, but it will only be available locally on MASN.

The Nationals' game against the White Sox on June 19 will be broadcast nationally on FOX with Strasburg back on the mound, the team announced Thursday

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

And the Acta haters are ridiculous. Are you guys really that clueless? You think we were losing games because of Acta? Look at the roster. IT SUCKED. Cleveland has a horrendous bullpen, their staff outside of Carmona and Talbot whose having a solid year, is awful. Sizemore is hurt, but that's probably a good thing considering how terrible hes been this year. Apart from Choo who is a STUD, their lineup is pathetic... Kearns is killing it this year, but I don't see that lasting.


Maybe if Acta would kick dirt in somebodies face they would all become good players, though.

Get a clue.

Posted by: Imjustlikemusiq | June 11, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

>>@dove -- you bring a lot of quality questions in your posts

Aww shucks folks. If I were king of the forest........

(BTW please tell me Morse and not Harris is DHing tonight.)

Posted by: dovelevine | June 11, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

@dovelevine and others -- I'm totally with you about Acta. I don't hate him. And I don't hope that he fails, but I'm pretty sure he will because he's a lousy manager. And like you, I expect Kearns will return to being a lousy hitter, but if he doesn't it makes me all the madder that he played while injured and brought our team down so many times. I can't wait to see him bail out on one of Strasburg's curve balls that is a called strike.

Posted by: Section222 | June 11, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The roster did suck under Manny... but, is there anyone that can honestly say they wish that Manny had NOT been fired, that the team should have given him a contract extension instead of showing him the door?

The team made a significant turn around under Riggleman last year... part of that was swapping Milledge for Morgan, Hanrahan for Burnett, brining in MacDougal who was shaky but somehow got the job done... but, those were relatively minor roster moves, not a total roster overhaul... In my mind, anyway, a significant different atmosphere on the team arose after Manny was let go and Riggleman took over... and the team seemed to play harder... again, this is in my line of thinking... but, the team's record would seem to support that line of thinking...

Posted by: Ghost7 | June 11, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I hope that Fox doesn't have the option of pulling the Nat's game when SS doesn't start. I seem to remember them pulling a Nat's game on one other occasion, with the result that it wasn't televised at all (and in any case, I think if they did that, the MASN broadcast wouldn't be available until after 6:00 because of Fox's monopoly on Saturday afternoon baseball).

Posted by: joebleux | June 11, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Let's take this moment to thank a few of the people responsible for bringing Strasburg to the Nats, reviving DC's long-dormant baseball traditions.

THANK YOU MANNY ACTA!!!!!!

Thanks to your 100 losses in 2008, we now have Stephen Strasburg! We couldn't have done it without YOU!

You too, Kearns! Your .220 batting average made the heart of the lineup DEAD, making it impossible for the Nats to score, leaving countless runners in scoring position!

Let's not leave Felipe Lopez out, either. He deserves credit as well. A career .270 hitter had a .210 average when playing for DC.

You guys all gave DC fans 110% effort towards getting the #1 overall pick. Pat yourselves on the back on Sunday when Strasburg bends your new team over 10 strikeouts.

Best wishes, Manny and good luck helping the Indians. You're behind the HO's this year in the race for the #1 overall pick, but there's a lot of baseball left! You can do it!

Posted by: jboogie1 | June 11, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp,

Agree with you that Kearns's problem was his inexplicable failure to fix his thumb during three seasons of throwing his bat into the 3B stands and ewatching his batting average plummet.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | June 11, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Just like Guzman's "inexplicable failure" to fix his eyesight until a contract year!

Posted by: jboogie1 | June 11, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

My BIGGEST problem with Manny was that he ACTUALLY thought Millege was a better player/hitter/fielder than THE HAMMER and sat Willingham---and kept him on the bench--- despite day after day of screw -ups by his guy Lastings!I will never forgive him for that LACK of judgement.

Posted by: ripndot | June 11, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Manny Acta= 10th worst manager winning percentage of all time. Enough said.

While Austin Kearns may have decent baseball card stats right now, he's in for a huge fall. He's striking out more than 30% of the time and his BABIP is unsustainable. Seems like a nice guy and I felt he always hustled, but he's really not a very good player.

Posted by: jsparks | June 11, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Tribe - 23-36
Nats at this time last year - 17-42 (now 30-31).

Coincidence?

Posted by: Section416akatheAlps | June 11, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

We have to be careful about putting World Championship Dreams all on Strasburg's shoulders ... oh, not because he may get injured, or may not be as good -- but with Walter Johnson pitching for the Old Senators for 20 years, the team went to only two World Series, winning one -- and The Big Train is considered by many to be the greatest pitcher ever, at least of the first half of the 20th Century.

A pitcher, even one of the very greatest, can do only so much on every fourth of fifth game.

Posted by: JPMcC | June 11, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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