Acta selects his coaching staff

Acta selects his coaching staff

WASHINGTON -- Manager Manny Acta added Rick Aponte, Pat Corrales, Jerry Morales, Mitchell Page and Tim Tolman to his coaching staff on Tuesday.

Corrales will be Acta's bench coach, and Morales and Tolman will be the first- and third-base coaches, respectively. Aponte becomes a bullpen coach, and Page returns as hitting coach. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire had already been retained by the Nationals before Acta was named the skipper on Nov. 14.

"It's a good mix of experienced people who are going to help me a great deal," Acta said. "We'll also have people who had a lot to do with my baseball career. These are people I had targeted a long time. I said if I ever had my shot, they would be a big help to me."

Aponte and Tolman were Acta's mentors when all three worked together in the Astros organization in the 1980s and 1990s. Aponte discovered Acta as a player in the Dominican Republic and taught him the dos and don'ts of baseball life. Aponte spent 32 seasons with the Astros, the last 26 as either a Minor League instructor or scout.

"He taught me how to behave, how to act," Acta said. "He taught about being patient. He told me to work hard. He had so much to do with me as a person. He is like a father or an older brother to me."

Tolman was the manager of Class A Burlington in 1991, and Acta was a player/coach on the team. It was Tolman who recommended that Acta go to scouting school. Acta also was Tolman's third-base coach at Class A Asheville in 1992.

Tolman managed at every level in the Astros' Minor League system from 1991 to 1996 before joining Houston's scouting department in both pro and amateur capacities from 1997 to 2002.

"He was real good to me," said Acta. "He taught me a lot about the game. He has a sharp mind when it comes to baseball."

Morales returns to the Nationals for the first time since the 2004 season. Morales, who spent three years as the Expos' first-base coach, retired after the 2004 season to take care of his wife, Maria, who was suffering from lupus. Acta is happy to report that Maria is doing well, which has allowed Morales to return to the coaching ranks. Morales was considered an excellent first-base and outfield coach when he was in Montreal.

Page returns for a second season as the Nationals' hitting coach. In his first year tutoring Washington hitters, they plated a franchise-record 741 runs -- 107 more than the season prior -- despite playing half their games in pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium.

After the season, Page was sent to the Minors to work as a hitting coordinator, and general manager Jim Bowden left it up to Acta to retain him. Page was all set to help 60 to 80 Minor League position players when Acta convinced him last week to remain with the Major League staff.

"I thought he did a great job," said Acta. "Before I even interviewed for the job, I talked to the Cardinals players. [Page coached with St. Louis from 2002 to 2004.] I spoke to Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols, and they thought very highly of him. If someone does a good job, it makes no sense to make changes."

Acta said that the decision to bring Corrales onboard was his. Corrales worked for team president Stan Kasten for more than a decade in Atlanta.

"Stan is a fair man, but you better do your work," Corrales said. "If you don't do your work, pack your suitcase and leave."

Acta expressed surprise that Corrales decided to leave the Braves after the 2006 season.

"Corrales was Bobby Cox's right-hand man [for eight seasons] and helped the Braves win 14 division titles," he said. "He brings a lot to the table. He was highly recommended by people that I trust."

As to why he found the Nationals so attractive, Corrales said, "The Nationals have the same type of team when I started with the Braves [in 1989]. The Braves had a couple of young kids. We were able to build around them and build something that lasted for a long time."

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