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11/20/07 Get To Know Your Nationals. Coaching Edition: Rick Aponte

     When newly-hired Washington Nationals Manager Manny Acta first introduced his coaching staff, he was quoted in a November 22, 2006, Barry Svrluga article at washingtonpost.com entitled, "Acta Completes His Staff", saying, "These are people who are a big part of who I am."

     Acta was not, of course, referring to Hitting Coach Mitchell Page or Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire, who had been retained from previous Manager Frank Robinson's staff, or Bench Coach Pat Corrales, who had sought out Acta himself, but to the two men Acta had personally selected, Third Base Coach Tim Tolman and Bullpen Coach Rick Aponte.

     While Manny Acta referred to Tolman, who had managed Acta in the Minors and encouraged him to pursue a career in coaching, as his mentor in Mr. Svrluga's article, Aponte, Acta said, was like "...a second father to me." After all...

      It was Ricardo "Rick" Aponte who had "set the stage" (in washington.nationals.mlb.com's profile's words) for Acta to sign his first professional contract with the Houston Astros as an unsigned seventeen year-old amateur out of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, in one of Aponte's many roles in Houston, as a scout in the Astros Organization....

     Aponte's playing career, as a right-handed pitcher, had lasted just four seasons (from 1978-1981) in which he played with the Class-A Daytona Astros, the Triple-AAA Charleston Charlies, Double-AA Columbus Astros, and Triple-AAA Tucson Toros, and amassed a (12-14) record with a 3.79 ERA in 134 appearances, (just 9 as a starter) and 278 total innings on the mound...

     According to Aponte's "Managers and Coaches"profile at washington.nationals.mlb.com, after his playing career, Aponte spent:

          "...14 seasons either managing or performing pitching
          coach duties for the Astros' Dominican Summer League
          entry located in San Pedro de Macoris...10 seasons
          domestically as a pitching coach in HOU's minor-league
          system at various levels...(and)...managed HOU's Rookie-
          level Dominican Summer League entry for 7 seasons, from
          1993-1999, before shifting into pitching coach role from  
          2000-06."

     After thirty-two seasons in the Houston organization, Rick Aponte was finally arriving in the his first Major League job when Manny Acta announced him as the Nationals Bullpen Coach in late 2006. In his first season on the job in '07, Aponte's bullpen finished fourth, statistically, in the National League.

     As important as Rick Aponte was to the Nationals last season, his role on the team could never, it would seem, be more important than the role he's played in Manny Acta's life. In mlb.com Nationals writer Bill Ladson's article, "Acta selects his coaching staff", Mr. Ladson quotes Acta, again praising Aponte:

          "He taught me how to behave, how to act. He taught
          about being patient. He told me to work hard. He had so  
          much to do with me as a person. He is like a father or an
          older brother to me."

*Rick Aponte Links*

Barry Svrluga's washingtonpost.com article, "Acta Completes His Staff":

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/21/AR2006112101012.html

washington.nationals.mlb.com's Rick Aponte profile:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/team/coach_staff_bio.jsp?c_id=was&coachorstaffid=506608

mlb.com's Nationals writer Bill Ladson's article "Acta selects his coaching staff" from 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

Ricardo "Rick" Aponte's player stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://thebaseballcube.com/players/A/Ricardo-Aponte.shtml

Manny Acta's stats at thebaseballcube.com:

http://thebaseballcube.com/players/A/Manny-Acta.shtml