WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Tony Armas, catcher Brian Schneider and second baseman Jose Vidro are the only active players to have played for Frank Robinson during the skipper's entire five-year tenure as manager of the Nationals/Expos.
All three heard the news on Thursday that Robinson will not be back as manager of the team. Vidro has had a close relationship with Robinson. In fact, Robinson sometimes went to Vidro for help with the starting lineup. For example, it was Vidro who said that Orlando Cabrera should bat second in 2003. Cabrera ended up having one of his best seasons, hitting .297 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs.
Vidro feels that Robinson is disappointed about not being asked back.
"I'm pretty sure [Robinson] was looking forward to being here with the new opportunities -- to be at the same level as every other ballclub," Vidro said. "I am pretty sure it's very disappointing for him. To be honest with you, I'd rather talk to him first and get a sense of everything before I make any more comments. Right now I am a little bit shocked, because I didn't expect it, but this is a business, and it happened before, and it's going to keep happening."
Schneider more than likely would never have been an everyday player if Robinson had not been on the scene. When Robinson was hired in 2002, Michael Barrett was the star catcher. But in the second half of the 2003 season -- after Barrett was placed on the disabled list and Robinson grew tired of Barrett's fragile personality -- Schneider became a valuable starting catcher. It got to the point where Robinson didn't have confidence in his backup catchers from 2003 to 2005, and Schneider had to play a lot of games without much rest.
Though he would not comment about Robinson leaving the organization, Schneider said that he felt grateful to Robinson for giving him his first chance as a starter.
"I've been with him for five years," Schneider said. "He has given me a chance to play. There's no doubt about it. Without him, I don't know where I would be. I will always give him a lot of credit for my success."
The relationship between Robinson and Armas got off to a slow start. During the middle of the 2002 season, Armas had a problem with Robinson taking him out of a game against the Phillies. As Robinson was walking toward the mound, Armas tossed the ball toward him. In the dugout, Vidro scolded Armas for disrespecting the manager. Armas would later apologize to Robinson numerous times, apologies that Robinson accepted. Since then, Robinson and Armas have had a mutual respect for each other.
"It's too bad a Hall of Famer had to go out that way," Armas said. "You are here today, and you never know where you are going to be tomorrow. We had our good days and our bad days, but he stayed with us. He battled with us."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.