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Mets coach Acta interviews with Nats for top job

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."