Prospect of Acta has players excited

Nats players excited about new skipper

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander John Patterson was pitching for the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League in 2004, and he said to himself that his manager, Manny Acta, would be real good in the same capacity in the Major Leagues.

Two years later, Patterson heard that Acta was a candidate for the Nationals managerial job and thought Acta would be a good fit because Acta is familiar with the organization, having been a third-base coach for the Expos from 2002-04.

"I was pretty excited about it because having played for him in the Dominican Republic in winter ball, I thought he was a great manager. I always felt that I got along with Manny," Patterson said. "I remember thinking while I was in the Dominican I would like to play for him in the big leagues."

Patterson will get his wish, for Acta will be named manager of the Nationals on Tuesday. Patterson said he is looking forward to being Acta's ace of the pitching staff.

"I'm feeling really good," Patterson said. "I have a new manager coming in that I'm already familiar with and I have a pitching coach [Randy St. Claire] for the past three years who will be there. All this seems to be working really good in my eyes."

Astros president Tal Smith, who played a role in Acta's development as a manger in the 1990s, expects Acta to be successful as a Major League skipper.

"Manny earned this on his own merit. It's a great choice for the Nationals, and I'm really delighted and happy," Smith said. "This is the right time for him. He has paid his dues as a Minor League player, Minor League manager and big-league coach. He is a solid baseball man. He is a good communicator. He can be decisive when he has to be."

Catcher Brian Schneider also worked with Acta in Montreal, and Schneider said that Acta is a person one could go to if something was going wrong. In fact, Schneider was with Acta last week when the Major League All-Stars went to Japan, and the two talked about the possibility of Acta managing the club.

"It was all 'what ifs,' and we didn't know. This is an opportunity for him, and I know he wants to take full advantage of it," Schneider said. "I'm looking forward to it. I worked with him before. I don't have to get to know a manager all over again. I'm comfortable with him."

Shortstop Felipe Lopez was pleasantly surprised on Sunday to learn that Acta was about to be named manager.

"Acta deserves a chance. He is familiar with a lot of the guys from the Nationals and the Minor Leaguers, too," Lopez said. "He will bring that winning attitude from the Mets. He was in the postseason."

In other news, the Nationals have yet to approach Lopez about a position switch, but he said he will do anything to help the team win. There are scouts who believe that Lopez is better as a second baseman.

"I really want to win and help this organization turn it around," Lopez said.

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