Part of the reason A’s shortstop Marcus Semien worked so tirelessly with Ron Washington was because he knew the opportunity wouldn’t last forever.
That became a reality Tuesday as Washington left Oakland’s coaching staff to become the third-base coach for the Braves. Washington, 64, interviewed for Atlanta’s vacant managerial position but instead will now join the staff of new Braves skipper Brian Snitker.
Washington logged long hours working with all of the A’s infielders before every game. But Semien was his No. 1 pupil from the time Washington rejoined the A’s staff in May 2015, and Semien showed major strides defensively in his second season as Oakland’s everyday shortstop.
“He’s helped my career,” Semien said by phone Tuesday. “Things weren’t going well early on defensively when I got to Oakland. Billy Beane brought him in and said, ‘I’ve got a kid with your name written all over him.’
“He told me to just trust the work and you’ll find a comfort zone. Muscle memory helps out with the fundamentals. I wanted to get that muscle memory because I knew he wasn’t going to be with us forever. You want to do as much work with him as you can to get to that point.”
Washington established a work-intensive culture with the A’s infielders that really manifested itself this past spring, when a rotation of players would take the field as early as 7 a.m. for special instruction from Washington, who had served a prior stint as Oakland’s infield and third base coach before becoming the Texas Rangers’ manager in 2007.
Now the key will be for the A’s infielders to carry forth that routine, or tailor one that fits them well individually, without Washington there anymore. That’s especially true for Semien, who seemed to reap the most from the tutelage of the longtime infield instructor.
But Semien pointed out that he’s also picked up knowledge from teammates such as first baseman Yonder Alonso, and that will serve him well moving forward.
“It’s a tough loss for us, but we’ll take what (Washington) taught us, and whoever our new infield coach is, we’ll learn from the new guy,” Semien said.
There could be some intriguing options for manager Bob Melvin when it comes to replacing Washington, who served as both the A’s third base coach and infield coach. Chip Hale, recently dismissed as the Diamondbacks’ manager, has a long history with Melvin and served as his bench coach with the A’s before taking the Arizona job.
Might Walt Weiss, who recently resigned as the Colorado Rockies’ manager, surface as a candidate? Weiss spent the first six years of his playing career as the A’s shortstop and played on three consecutive pennant-winning clubs.
The A’s like to promote from within their own coaching ranks, and Steve Scarsone has done highly respected work managing their Triple-A club. He was an infielder during his major league career. Double-A manager Ryan Christenson also is advancing up the managerial chain in the A’s farm system.
And it’s not like the A’s have to find their new infield and third base coach in the same hire. They could bring someone in to coach infielders and identify a third-base coach from within the organization, or vice versa.