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Nats bench coach on Dusty: 'what the team does today is done for him'

Nats bench coach on Dusty: 'what the team does today is done for him'

With Dusty Baker away from the Nationals to grieve the death of a close family member, bench coach Chris Speier has stepped up to replace him for Wednesday night's series finale against the Mets, and perhaps also Friday night's opener at the Atlanta Braves, depending on when Baker can return to the team.

It's a position Speier has been in before, having filled in for Baker when the skipper left the Reds in 2012 to deal with a health issue. But though he's done it in the past, that doesn't make the job any easier.

"This is not an ideal situation to be in. It's not my first time that we've done this. The last time I was managed was another similar, somber situation," Speier said. "I just try to do the things that I know he would do and that he would want me to do... It's just done with a heavy heart. You have a friend that's going through some difficult times. Your heart goes out. What I do and what the team does today is done for him."

Speier said he's known for several days he would have to fill in for Dusty, meaning Baker has been coaching the Nats with a lot on his mind. The Nationals have been in the middle of a pennant race and are currently playing their final head-to-head series against the division rival Mets.

Speier said he will continue to fill his primary responsibilities involving the team's defensive alignment and baserunning strategies. He does not plan to have another assistant now fill in as bench coach.

"Just let them play. Don't try to be too tricky. We have a lot of talent on this team. Let the talent do it. Try to put them in the right position to be successful. Don't over-manage. This situation is: let's not get anybody hurt," he said.

Baker and Speier go back a long time. They began a coaching relationship in 2005 when Speier joined Baker's staff with the Chicago Cubs.

The two have grown very close over the years.

"From wisdom and experience he’s at times like an older brother. At times, he’s like a very close friend. In times of need and times of questions that I have about life, he’s almost like the father. So, he fills all of those things. And I know he fills that role with a lot of the guys on the team," Speier said.

Speier described how he's seen Baker change over the years from their Chicago days to now in Washington, the third MLB team they have coached together.

"I know now that Dusty earlier on, this game wore on him. I could tell. This time around, he just seems a lot happier and a lot more at peace. He doesn’t take defeat, doesn’t take losses, doesn’t take down times as hard as he used to. It’s really refreshing. Makes us turn the page a lot quicker, too."

[RELATED: Bench coach to manage Nats, as Baker leaves for death in family]

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.