Mets coach Acta interviews with Nats for top job

Updated: November 8, 2006, 11:05 AM ET
Associated Press

OSAKA, Japan -- Count Manny Acta as someone who interviewed with the Washington Nationals for their managerial opening and wants the job.

Acta, the New York Mets' third-base coach, said he met with Nationals president Stan Kasten, GM Jim Bowden and owners last month before traveling to Japan with a team of major league stars.

"I thought it went real well," Acta said Tuesday. "I'm familiar with the organization. The whole process really impressed me. They have a plan in place, and with the new stadium coming up, it's a very attractive job so I hope I get it."

That's a stance that hasn't been taken by everyone whose name has been attached to the search to replace Frank Robinson as Washington's manager.

Lou Piniella publicly said he wasn't interested in the job in Washington, shortly before he was hired by the Chicago Cubs. Former Marlins manager Joe Girardi's agent said he withdrew his name from consideration.

The Nationals won't say who -- or even how many people -- they've interviewed.

Acta hopes to hear from Washington as soon as he gets back from the Japan tour. Kasten said Friday he expects a decision within about two weeks.

Acta, who managed the Dominican Republic team at the World Baseball Classic in March, used to be the third-base coach for the Montreal Expos before they went to Washington.

He thinks the Nationals need to improve their pitching before anything else.

"The Nationals have a good nucleus of young players," Acta said. "The problem last year was the starting pitching. The bullpen showed some promise with [Chad] Cordero being the established closer, and Jon Rauch pitched very well. [Luis] Ayala is coming back next season, so I just think they need some left-handed relievers and to patch up the starting rotation."

Acta is encouraged by the fan support in Washington.

"The last few years the fans have shown they will support baseball in Washington, and to have all those fans show up at the old stadium was a great sign," he said. "When they get the new stadium in, it's just going to be unbelievable there in Washington."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press