Filling out coaching staff to be 'group decision'

Nats take key step by adding Long as Martinez's hitting coach

Filling out coaching staff to be 'group decision'

WASHINGTON -- Now that the Nationals have found, hired and introduced manager Dave Martinez, they can begin the work of filling out his coaching staff. They made a significant step Thursday when they named Kevin Long their new hitting coach, getting one of the hottest coaching commodities on the market.

Long had spent the past three seasons with the Mets as their hitting coach and served the previous eight seasons with the Yankees in the same role. He was considered a candidate for the managerial opening with both New York teams before Mickey Callaway was hired by the Mets; the Yanks' position is still unfilled.

So the first member of Martinez's staff comes with a ton of experience, which could be important considering he is a first-time manager. It remains to be seen whether Washington will value experience with the rest of the staff or look for people Martinez has a connection with.

"We're going to attack it like we attack everything -- where it's going to be a group decision, and Davey's got to be comfortable with the guys around him," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "We're going to put people in positions to aid Davey in winning baseball games, and there's not a shortage of candidates who want to be with the Washington Nationals."

The Nats value continuity, but it's becoming more unlikely that there will be much holdover from Dusty Baker's coaching staff last year. Pitching coach Mike Maddux has already signed to the same position with St. Louis; bench coach Chris Speier is a longtime friend of Baker's, and first-base coach Davey Lopes will not return, a source told MLB.com. One possible holdover could be third-base coach Bobby Henley, according to a report from The Washington Post, although he could be assigned to another role in the organization.

When the Nationals hired Baker as their manager two years ago, the hiring process for the coaching staff continued into that year's General Managers Meetings. This year's GM Meetings take place from Nov. 13-16, and they could once again be a chance for Rizzo to conduct several interviews and help build a staff.

"We've received a lot of phone calls," Rizzo said. "We've got a lot of interest, because this is a good team, a good franchise, a good organization. With a good young manager like Davey, there's plenty of people who want to be here."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.