Nats could pick new skipper next week

Nats could pick new skipper next week

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are expected to make a final decision on their new manager sometime next week, according to a baseball source, and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta is hoping that he's the Nationals' choice.

The Nationals have been looking for a manager since they told Frank Robinson on Sept. 30 that he would not return as the team's manager in 2007. Since then, the team has been quiet about the search. General manager Jim Bowden was not available for comment.

One thing is certain -- Acta is one of the Nationals' top candidates. Acta returned from Japan on Thursday after coaching the Major League All-Stars, and he heard from Bowden that afternoon that he was still a candidate to manage the Nationals.

"He said I was factor in the process, and that's good news. They still have not made their decision," said Acta, who is expected to interview for a similar job with the Athletics.

Acta interviewed with the Nationals in late October, and according to a person familiar with the meeting, Acta really impressed the Nationals. He spent most of the morning talking to Bowden, and had afternoon conversations with team president Stan Kasten and assistant general managers Bob Boone and Mike Rizzo. Acta would later meet with the Lerner family.

Of all the managerial candidates, Acta, 37, is the most familiar with the organization. He was the Expos' third-base coach under then-manager Robinson from 2002 to 2004, and has worked with catcher Brian Schneider, second baseman Jose Vidro, closer Chad Cordero and pitching coach Randy St. Claire.

Not only did he serve as the third-base coach, he was baserunning coach, an infield coach, an interpreter for Vladimir Guerrero and Orlando Hernandez, and a go-between whenever Robinson wanted to send a message to one of his Latin players.

"It has only been two years since I left. A lot of those guys are still there. Not only that, I stayed in the same division (the National League East). It helped me to stay kind of connected and familiar with them. It helps me a great deal," Acta said.

Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena is another managerial candidate, but he told early in the week that he has not heard from Bowden since a few days after the Yankees were eliminated from American League Division Series by the Tigers.

There could be other candidates, but the Nationals are not talking about them. asked former Yankees bench coach Lee Mazzilli on Thursday night if he was a candidate for the managerial job and he declined to comment. Mazzilli, who was dismissed from the Yankees this past season, managed the Orioles in 2004 and most of the 2005 season.

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