Towards the end of the Washington Nationals’ introductory press conference for new manager Dave Martinez this afternoon, the skipper and GM Mike Rizzo were asked if they’d talked at all about hiring coaches to fill out Martinez’s staff since Dusty Baker’s coaches’ contracts expired at the end of the 2018 campaign.
“We’re going to attack it like we attack everything,” Rizzo said, fielding the question.
“It’s going to be a group decision and Davey has got to be comfortable with the guys around him. We’re going to put people in positions to aid Davey in winning baseball games and there’s not a shortage of candidates who want to be with the Washington Nationals. We’ve received a lot of phone calls, we’ve got a lot of interest because it’s a good team, it’s a good franchise, a good organization, and with a good young manager like Davey, there are plenty of people who want to be here.”
Now-former New York Mets’ hitting coach Kevin Long is apparently one of those people.
Just a few hours after Martinez was introduced to the nation’s capital, Long, who had interviewed for the manager’s gig, was named the Nationals’ new hitting coach.
Long, 50, served as the New York Yankees’ hitting coach from 2007-2014, and was in the same role with the Mets from 2015 through the end of this past season.
Long is, of course, credited with a lot of the improvement Daniel Murphy made at the plate in their time together in New York.
New York Times’ writer Tyler Kepner, in 2015, wrote about the working relationship between the two that resulted in Murphy’s next-level breakout.
“Long believed Murphy should harness that power by driving more with his legs,” Kepner wrote, “... moving closer to the plate, getting his front foot down sooner and bringing his hands lower and closer to his body.”
“Just five minutes after he shared those thoughts with Murphy,” Kepner wrote, “he got this reply: ‘Right on.’”
“I was like, this guy’s talking my language, because he’s right,” Murphy said.
Will the Murphy-whisperer have as big an effect on the rest of the roster? The Nats can only hope. Long replaces Rick Schu, who’d served as the Nationals’ hitting coach since 2013, but had his contract expire at the end of the 2017 campaign along with the rest of the Nationals’ coaches.