Expos unveil coaching staff
The Montreal Expos rounded out their coaching staff on Sunday.
Joining field manager Frank Robinson at the Expos spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla. were: bench coach Wendell Kim; pitching coach Dick Pole; hitting coach Tom McCraw, outfield-first base coach Jerry Morales; infield-third base coach Manny Acta; catching-bullpen coach Bob Natal and roving instructor Claude Raymond, of St. Luc, Que.
Robinson, 66, and his staff has one season to bring a World Series title to Montreal.
He was appointed manager of the Expos by commissioner Allan (Bud) Selig after the Expos were bought by Major League Baseball from outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria who, in turn, purchased the Florida Marlins.
But Robinson, a seasoned manager and Hall of Fame outfielder, refuses to be dubbed a lame duck.
"I'm going to tell these guys that we are going to win the Eastern Division title," said Robinson upon his arrival at Expos spring training camp in Jupiter, Fla.
"People don't expect much, but this is a very talented club. Maybe not that deep, but we are very capable of being in the race at the end of the season."
Almost certainly the Expos' final season in Montreal.
Legal entanglements prevented MLB from folding the franchise in 2002, but it still plans to contract by two clubs (Expos, Minnesota Twins) come 2003.
"The way I look at it is there is a baseball season to be played," Robinson said. "We are not going to worry ourselves about the off-field stuff, the politics or whatever.
"We are going to concentrate on baseball."
That said, neither Robinson nor newly-hired rookie general manager Omar Minaya are planning a fire sale.
"We are not going to give up the heart of this club in any deals," Robinson said. "That wasn't a condition of my taking over the club.
"If you take the heart out of the club, how can you expect the rest of the players to perform or the fans to come out and watch?"
Robinson became baseball's first black manager, replacing Ken Aspromonte of the Cleveland Indians on Oct. 3, 1974.
In his debut as player/manager on Apr. 8, 1975, Robinson homered in his first at-bat in a 5-3 win over the New York Yankees.
It marked his eighth Opening Day home run, a major league record.
Robinson retired as an active player on Sept. 18th, 1976, only to be fired by the Indians on June 19, 1977.
Ironically, he was replaced by Jeff Torborg, who he will succeed in Montreal.
Robinson resurfaced as manager of the San Francisco Giants on Jan. 14th, 1981, but lost his job on Aug. 5, 1984 after going 42-64.
He also managed the Baltimore Orioles between Apr. 12th, 1988 and May 23, 1991.
All toll, Robinson compiled a 591-642 record (.479).
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, Robinson is also the only major leaguer named most valuable player in both the National and American Leagues.
He was named NL MVP with the Cincinnati Reds in 1961, then AL MVP in his first season with Baltimore in 1966.
That 1966 season proved one of Robinson's finest as he captured baseball's Triple Crown (.316, 49 HR, 122 RBIs) and World Series MVP honours.
He was also named NL rookie of the year in 1956 and ranks fourth all-time with 586 homers, trailing only Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Willie Mays (660).
Robinson batted .294 with 2,943 hits, 1,829 runs scored, 1,812 runs batted in and 204 stolen bases in 2,808 games over 22 seasons with the Reds, Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Indians.