The man who led the Texas Rangers to their highest points in franchise history, but left last season amid a personal scandal, is back in Major League Baseball. The team where he was a coach for a decade is bringing him back to Oakland.
According to the original breaking news from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the horrendous Oakland Athletics plan to bring back Washington as a special instructor to work on fielding. A recent updated story from the Chronicle said Wash’ will likely join the team on their current road trip to Tampa.
This makes sense. The A’s rank last in MLB in fielding percentage, and lead the league in errors with 43; the next closest is 34 by the Milwaukee Brewers. Before Wash’ came to the Rangers his forte was as a fielding coach. He was with the A’s from 1997 to 2006.
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Wash’, 63, was a coach with the A’s during their “Moneyball” days, and was a highly respected and beloved third base coach. A’s GM Billy Beane is known to bring guys back that he likes; he did it with former Rangers assistant GM Grady Fuson years ago.
Wash’ left the Rangers on Sept. 5 last season, on his own volition. He was not fired. We later learned he left the team because of an affair. Wash’ returned to his native Louisiana, where he was helping out various local baseball teams, including the University of Louisiana, hoping to get a call from a big league team.
I thought he would have to miss the season before another team would give him a shot. He deserves one. In his eight-plus seasons as the manager of the Rangers, the team was 664-611 with five winning years, and two American League pennants.
Wash’ had a fair amount of screwup in him - admitted cocaine use, the affair - but he was as good of a baseball man as you could find. He loved the game. Maybe too much. His previous mistakes may prevent him from being a manager again, but they should not stop him from landing a job in the bigs.
His players loved him, and as a coach he had a track record in Oakland of developing sound defensive fielders, specifically with Miquel Tejada and Eric Chavez, among others.
For the time being, the A’s have a full staff, thus meaning Wash’ can’t be in the dugout during games. Whether or not this job leads to a promotion to full-time coach, or another shot at managing, who knows?
At a minimum, Wash’ is back where he belongs.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760