Things are happening quickly since the Washington Nationals surprised everyone by hiring Dusty Baker as their new manager a week after rumors around the baseball world said Bud Black was the top choice in D.C.
Both were known to be finalists, but it ended up being Baker, and since his deal with the Nationals was announced earlier this week, the Nats have also added a new pitching coach and first base coach to the veteran skipper's staff.
Former major league pitcher and Texas Rangers' pitching coach Mike Maddux signed on to become the Nationals' new pitching coach yesterday, and before Baker's introductory press conference this morning, now-former Los Angeles Dodgers' first base coach Davey Lopes was named the Nats' first base coach.
Baker has history with both of his coaches, he explained today, and he's excited about the talent that's being assembled on the bench in the nation's capital.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo talked to reporters after Baker's introduction about how Maddux ended up getting the job a few weeks after they first talked to him about the possibility.
"Michael had, in his contract, he had an out," Rizzo said.
"He had a window to discuss with other teams. We took that opportunity to discuss with him generalities and then later on when we made the Dusty decision and got Dusty finalized, Mike became a free agent at that time and he was the first guy after I talked to Dusty about it, he was the first guy that we went after and we went after him extremely hard and aggressive and we got him and in one day he made his decision."
Bob Nightengale, a national baseball writer for USA TODAY Sports, reported on Twitter earlier today, that the Nats gave Maddux a two-year deal that might have made him the highest-paid pitching coach in the majors, though the terms of the deal weren't made public.
"He fit a lot of the prerequisites that we're looking [for] in a pitching coach," Rizzo told reporters today.
"Dusty had a relationship with him and he really respected the way that he did his business.
"He's not only a mechanical expert with arm angles and tweaking of deliveries and that type of thing, but he's a mental skills expert. He really knows the ins and outs of pitching. He comes from a great pedigree, he's had great success and he's got a great resume. So, he's a guy that knows the whole gamut of the art of pitching and he comes with a respect factor from the players that's hard to beat."
Davey Lopes, 70, who is Baker's former teammate and godfather of the manager's daughter, has been a first base coach with the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, LA Dodgers and he held the position with the Nationals in 2006 as well.
Lopes is back in the nation's capital after six seasons as the first base coach in Los Angeles.
"Davey, he's been a favorite of mine for years," Rizzo said. "As good of a baserunning coach as there is that I've ever been around.
"Several of our players have a real tie to him and he was a player favorite, when we announced that and told the players about that they were extremely happy also."
"We're going to run the bases," Baker said. "I think that's something that's probably last on the list of a lot of teams and baserunning is probably the most overlooked part of baseball."
Rizzo was asked if the Nationals had discussed any possibilities for a new hitting coach, and whether they had even thought about the possibility of bringing Barry Bonds on in that role?
"We have not discussed Barry Bonds as a candidate," Rizzo said.
"We have several people in mind that are in play. It's fairly new after we got the manager in place, but we're looking for the best and brightest coaching staff to surround Dusty with. I think that we have a good start with Mike [Maddux] and with Davey Lopes, who I love, and I think we'll continue that trend of trying to fit the best people around Dusty."