Pendleton bows out of Nats search

Pendleton bows out of Nats manager search

WASHINGTON -- Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton took himself out as a candidate to become manager of the Nationals, informing the club on Monday. The news comes a day after Joe Girardi took himself out of the managerial race for family reasons.

Like Girardi, Pendleton was considered one of the top candidates for the managerial job. He interviewed for the position more than two weeks ago. Pendleton has long ties to team president Stan Kasten -- the two worked together for four-plus seasons in the 1990s when both were with the Braves. But Pendleton said loyalty to the Braves was the reason he decided to stay put.

"I thought my obligations at this time are to the Braves," Pendleton said. "I knew that they really wanted me back and I didn't think it was fair to keep them on a string."

Kasten declined to comment on Pendleton via E-mail and general manager Jim Bowden was not available for comment. He has talked to the media only once since he and Frank Robinson announced on Sept. 30 that Robinson would not be the skipper of the Nationals in 2007, and that was last week via E-mail, when the team announced that pitching coach Randy St. Claire would be retained.

With Pendleton and Girardi out of the running, that leaves Mets third-base coach Manny Acta and Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena up for the job. A source said there were other candidates but was reluctant to reveal them because of the sensitivity of the situation. The source confirmed that Acta is a top candidate and is expected to be interviewed this week.

Pena, who is currently in the Dominican Republic, said last week that he talked to Bowden once by phone.

Sources already acknowledged recently that the team may not name a manager until December. At first, it was believed that it would hire a manager with experience in the Major Leagues, but that might change.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for Mark Bowman also contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.