Front office staffed, Nats turn to manager's job

October 15, 2009

After a series of changes to the front office, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is ready to spend more time picking a manager.

The Nationals announced several moves Thursday, including hiring Roy Clark as vice president of player personnel, Johnny DiPuglia as director of Latin American operations and Doug Harris as director of player development.

Also, Kris Kline was promoted to director of scouting, replacing Dana Brown, who left to take a job with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"We're trying to get our ducks in a row. The front office was my first concern," said Rizzo, who made the first major changes to his staff since becoming the team's full-fledged general manager in August.

Now comes the decision about who will be in the dugout next season. Rizzo fired manager Manny Acta in July and promoted bench coach Jim Riggleman to interim manager; the team finished 59-103, the worst record in the majors.

On Thursday, Rizzo called Riggleman "a terrific in-house candidate ... who's got as good a chance as anybody" of getting the job for 2010.

"We're in the midst of making phone calls and whittling down a long list to a smaller list, a more manageable list," Rizzo said.

"The search is going to begin a little bit more seriously in the very near future," he added.

Rizzo said the process could "go through postseason," in part because "some of the people that we may be discussing with ... could possibly be in the playoffs."

There also will be other front-office hires, including an assistant general manager who knows rules governing player moves and contract language.

Rizzo described Clark, who had been the director of scouting for the Atlanta Braves, as "a go-to guy for evaluations," saying he will help Kline with the 2010 amateur draft.

The Nationals have the No. 1 overall pick for the second time in a row; they took consensus top talent Stephen Strasburg in 2009. Clark said the top player in the upcoming draft is not "as clear-cut as it was last year."

DiPuglia was with the Boston Red Sox for the past 10 seasons, and Harris worked for the Cleveland Indians last season.

Kline had been an assistant scouting director for Washington.