Ron Washington returns to field full-time as A’s third-base coach
SEATTLE — Ron Washington, the former Texas Rangers manager, has been hired as the Oakland Athletics’ third-base coach after the club dismissed Mike Gallego on Monday.
The 63-year-old Washington spent 11 seasons as an A’s coach before becoming manager of the Rangers in 2007 and leading Texas to a pair of American League pennants in 2010-11. Washington rejoined Oakland as a coach in May to work with infielders, but couldn’t be in the dugout for games.
"The main thing I’m looking forward to is being back on the field full-time," Washington said. "I consider myself a difference maker.
"What I was doing, I felt like I was making a difference, but now I really get a chance to make a difference because I can be around to answer (players’) questions. I can be around to help these guys to make certain they know what they’re doing in certain things."
He was hired in May to work with infielders on their defense. His challenge this season has been helping shortstop Marcus Semien, who has 31 errors.
Washington was instrumental in developing infielders during his first A’s stint. Oakland led the league in fielding in 2004 and `05 and was second in `06.
Washington, who played parts of 10 seasons in the majors as an infielder for five teams, was popular with the Oakland players and a key in the development of retired six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez — not to mention Mark Ellis, Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi, among others.
Chavez presented his third Gold Glove to Washington, who began coaching in the New York Mets organization in 1991 and later managed their Class A affiliate.
Both Gallego and Washington served in the same coaching role, with Washington watching from the stands during games. Asked if that was an awkward spot for him, Washington went third-person.
"I’ve always been an inclusive person. I never hoarded anything in this game," he said. "(General manager) Billy Beane knows who Ron Washington is. I think baseball knows who Ron Washington is. Ron Washington won’t change just because he’s a third-base coach."
He said viewing the game from outside the dugout helped.
"It was a different perspective, and I saw things I never saw before," Washington said. "Mainly, I saw guys, either on this team or other teams, being out of position. My keen eyes have seen it. `This guy is supposed to be there, or he’s supposed to be here, or he’s supposed to do this or shouldn’t do that.’ On the field level, you don’t see that."
He wasn’t concerned about shaking rust in the third-base coach’s box.
"It’s going to be like riding a bicycle," Washington said. "Like riding a bicycle. It’s something I did for 11 years. I coached other guys to coach third base. I’m not going to have a problem at all."
He returns to the dugout for the first time since he resigned on Sept. 5, 2014, after eight seasons as the Rangers skipper. He said the reason for his resignation was that he needed to devote his full attention to an "off-the-field personal matter." He later acknowledged he had broken his wife Gerry’s trust.
If given the opportunity to manage again, Washington said, "I’d definitely be interested."
Gallego had been with the club for most of his professional career, beginning as the team’s No. 2 draft choice in 1981 out of UCLA. He played with the A’s from 1985 to 1991 and again in 1995 and was part of the 1989 World Championship team.
He had been the third-base coach for the past seven seasons under manager Bob Melvin. His departure ended a 19-year association with the A’s.