Fresh off our look last week at the coaches at the Washington Nationals' AAA team in Syracuse, we now turn our attention to the coaches for the Harrisburg Senators, the Nationals' AA team. This is an entirely new coaching staff in Harrisburg, as last year's manager (Tony Beasley) and hitting coach (Troy Gingrich) were promoted from Harrisburg to Syracuse. Harrisburg's former pitching coach, Randy Tomlin, was apparently offered a position with the organization but turned it down due to personal reasons. According to a published report, Tomlin is coaching a High School baseball team in Roanoke Virginia while attending to family matters related to the recent death of his father-in-law. According to Byron Kerr, don't be surprised if Tomlin resurfaces in the organization soon. Tomlin helped develop prospects like Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock and others, and (according to Kerr) there is a lot of mutual respect between him and the organization.
Matthew LeCroy, Manager. For Washington Nationals' fans, their #1 memory of Matt LeCroy is probably the fact that he made Frank Robinson cry. Towards the end of LeCroy's playing career* he began the 2006 season with the Nationals. Although he had come up as a catcher, by the time he got to Washington bad knees largely limited LeCroy to a 1b/DH/PH role. But that fateful day injuries to Brian Schneider and Wiki Gonzalez resulted in LeCroy donning the tools of ignorance. LeCroy had such a terrible time - he committed two errors and allowed six straight stolen bases by the Astros - that Manager Robinson pulled LeCroy in the middle of the seventh inning. Afterwards Robinson, who by most accounts respected LeCroy a great deal and didn't want to embarrass him, teared up during the postgame interviews. That this is the #1 memory of LeCroy for Nats fans is too bad, because had a respectable major league career. In 2003 LeCroy hit 17 home runs and his splits were .276/.342/.490. Sadly, injuries had really set him back by the time he got to DC. DFA'd shortly after the crying game, spent the rest of the season in AAA and, after a brief stop with the Twins in 2007, and a brief stop in the independent leagues in 2008, his playing days ended. In November 2008 he was hired by the Nationals to manage the Hagerstown Suns (Low A). He spent 2009 and 2010 with Hagerstown and 2011 managing in Potomac (High A). After guiding the Potomac Nationals to a playoff spot last year, he was promoted to Harrisburg as part of the Nationals' coaching escalator.
Eric Fox, Hitting Coach
Fox was selected in the 1st round (fifth overall) of the 1986 amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners out of Fresno State University. But it wasn't the June draft, it was the secondary phase of the January draft. Fox's impact as a player was limited; he kicked around the minor leagues for six years before playing brief parts of three seasons (1992-4) with the Oakland A's and a few games in 1995 with the Texas Rangers. He played in the postseason with Oakland in 1992, going one for four against Toronto in the American League Championship Series. Fox had a reputation as a speedster (224 minor league stolen bases) and a good fielder, but struggled to hit at the big league level (his career MLB splits are .198/.257/.302). Although he continued to play in the minors until 1997 before hanging up his cleats.
Once his playing days were done, Fox moved to coaching. Unlike most of the other coaches in the Nationals system, Fox was brought in this year from outside the current organization (although he previously served as the hitting coach for the Senators in 2001 when it was part of the Montreal Expos system). For the last several years Fox has served as the outfield coordinator with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, and it seems likely that Rizzo knew Fox from his time as the Director of Scouting of the Diamondbacks from 2000-2006.
Paul Menhart, Pitching Coach.
Menhart was originally selected in the 8th round of the 1990 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. After moving through the organization he made his major league debut with the Blue Jays on April 27, 1995. His batterymate in that game? Current Nationals Bench Coach Randy Knorr. After the season the Blue Jays traded Menhart and Edwin Hurtado to the Seattle Mariners for Miguel Cairo and Bill Risley. After appearing in 11 games for the Mariners, Menhart was traded in June 1997 to the San Diego Padres for Andres Beruman. His nine games with the Padres were his last in the majors, although he did pitch for a few more years in the minors. He finished his playing career in 2001 with the independent league Solano Steelheads.
After his playing career ended Menhart spent three years as a coach for his Alma Mater, the Western Carolina Catamounts prior to joining the Nationals organization. This is his seventh season as a pitching coach in the Nationals organization, the last three with Potomac before being promoted with Matt LeCroy to Harrisburg.
*During the 2006-2008 time frame, an astonishing number of players who played for the Nationals were doing so "toward the end of their playing career."