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11/2/07 Get To Know Your Nationals. Coaching Edition: Pat Corrales

     When the Atlanta Braves announced that Bench Coach Pat Corrales would not return for the 2007 season, there was speculation on the Atlanta Braves mlb.com website that the 17-year veteran of Bobby Cox's staff would be joining Freddie Gonzalez, the Braves third base coach, who had just left the team to become Manager of the Florida Marlins as Gonzalez's bench coach, after having filled that role in Atlanta for the previous eight seasons.

     In an article mlb.com's Braves writer Mark Bowman wrote at the time entitled, "Braves announce coaching changes," Bowman quoted Bobby Cox, who said:

     "I would like to express my gratitude to Pat Corrales and
     (Braves Bullpen Coach) Bobby Dews," Cox said. "They were
     by my side for a long time, and we spent a lot of great
     seasons together. They have really been an important part of
     the unsurpassed success we've had here. They are both great  
     coaches and good friends."

     Pat Corrales never did end up joining Freddie Gonzalez in Florida though, opting instead to join Manny Acta in Washington, DC in 2006, as the Nationals Bench Coach instead. Corrales, who had been with Braves when new Nationals owner Stan Kasten was Atlanta's Team President from 1986-2003, sighted the relationship as a factor in his decision to join the Nationals and noted, in a Bill Ladson article at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

     "The Nationals have the same type of team when I started
     with the Braves [in 1989]. The Braves had a couple of young
     kids. We were able to build around them and build something
     that lasted for a long time."

     Nationals Manager Manny Acta was effusive in his praise of the incoming Corrales, noting in the same Bill Ladson article that:

     "'Corrales was Bobby Cox's right-hand man [for eight
     seasons] and helped the Braves win 14 division titles.. 'He
     brings a lot to the table. He was highly recommended by
     people that I trust.'"

     Of course, before Corrales was "Bobby Cox's right-hand man" as Acta calls him, Pat Corrales was a Major League catcher for 9 seasons in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Diego from(1964-1973) during which time he batted .208 with 4 HR's and 54 RBI's (So he must have been a heck of a defensive catcher, right?).

     Five years after he played his last game, Pat Corrales surfaced as the Manager of the Texas Rangers in 1978, where he stayed for three season before joining the Philadelphia Phillies, managing for two seasons before earning a spot as an odd footnote in Baseball history when he was fired in 1983 with the Phillies in 1st place.

     In baseballreference.com's "BR Bullpen" Corrales firing is explained thusly:

     "Despite being in first place in the National League East, the
     Phillies fire manager Pat Corrales because the team is "not
     playing up to its potential." GM Paul Owens will manage the
     club instead. Managing his first game, the Phils drop a 9 - 2
     decision as the Astros shell Steve Carlton. It's his 11th loss of
     the year and drops the Phils into a tie for 2nd place with the
     Pirates."

     Somewhat surprisingly, Corrales was still willing to give Managing another chance, this time in Cleveland, where he managed the Indians from (1983-87) never finishing above 5th place in an AL East that included Boston, New York, Milwaukee, Toronto, Detroit and Baltimore during those years.

     1990 started Pat Corrales' long stay in Atlanta. Named to Bobby Cox's staff almost immediately upon Cox's hiring, Corrales helped Cox preside over 14 straight NL East Titles in his 17 year stay with the Braves.

     Manny Acta, with Kasten at the helm, and Corrales on the bench, can only hope for half the success the two were able to accomplish along with Bobby Cox in Atlanta. While he's there, the influence that Corrales' years in the Majors can have on players, such as Nationals catcher Jesus Flores is immeasurable.

     As Flores noted himself at the end of the 2007 season, in an article on mlb.com, again by Bill Ladson:

      "There is no doubt about it, Pat has been amazing with
     me...There are days when we work on blocking balls and
     throwing to the bases."

     ...to which Corrales responded:

     "He's a talented young man," Corrales said. "He's very smart.
     He has a good arm. He has bat speed. He is very coachable.
     We give him the game plan, [and] he follows it very well."

     Elsewhere in Ladson's article the relation is described more fully:

     "(Corrales)..is like a father ordering his kid to do his
     homework on a daily basis. Under Corrales' tutelage, Flores
     can often be found watching video on opposing hitters or on
     the field working on his catching skills before games."

     Signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1959, Corrales, who was born in Los Angeles on March 20, 1941, will be entering his forty-ninth year in baseball when the Nationals begin play in their new stadium in 2008, and however long the sixty-eight year old bench coach stays around, Pat Corrales will already have played a significant and positive part in a half-century of baseball history.

*Pat Corrales Links*

Pat Corrales' Biography at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/team/coach_staff_bio.jsp?c_id=was&coachorstaffid=112696

Braves writer Mark Bowman's article at atlanta.braves.mlb.com from 10/3/06:

http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061003&content_id=1696904&vkey=news_atl &fext=.jsp&c_id=atl

Baseballreference.com's account of Corrales firing in Philly in 1983: (scroll down to 1983)...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/July_18

Nationals writer Bill Ladson's article on Corrales' hiring at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061121&content_id=1745258&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Nationals writer Bill Ladson's article on Flores and Corrales from 9/13/07:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070913&content_id=2206215&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

Pat Corrales' stats at baseballreference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/corrapa01.shtml#TRANS