Jim Riggleman Named Cincinnati Reds Third Base Coach

A considerable amount of agony for the 2014 Cincinnati Reds season fell on the shoulders of third base coach Steve Smith. The Reds would lead the league in runners cut down at the plate on non-force plays, not exactly the stat a team wants to lead the league in.

The job of a third base coach—relaying signs to base runners and batters, waving players in to, and home from, third—can largely go unnoticed by the average fan. After all, who analyzes the job of a third base coach? If a player goes 0-for-4, or a pitcher allows five runs in an inning, it’s easy to tell who made the mistake. But if a third base coach accidently fudges up a sign to a baserunner and they steal when they were supposed to hold, it becomes nearly impossible to assess where the blame lies.

At season’s end, the Reds parted ways with Steve Smith. There was one too many runners thrown out at the plate by a foot, and one too many fans actually knowing whom the third base coach was for Smith to keep his job.

Earlier this afternoon, the club announced that it would be promoting former Triple-A Louisville Bats manager Jim Riggleman to the position.

If Riggleman’s name sounds familiar, it’s more than likely because it should be. He has been managing in the Major Leagues since 1992 with clubs such as the San Diego Padres (1992-1994), Chicago Cubs (1995-1999), Seattle Mariners (2008), and Washington Nationals (2009-2011.)

There’s also a strong chance that the only reason you know Riggleman’s name is because of his strange departure with the Nationals back in 2011. In the midst of a stretch where the club had won 11 of their last 12 contests, Riggleman suddenly resigned amidst contract negotiations with management that went south.

Despite being labeled a “quitter,” (Riggleman has been in baseball since he was drafted in 1974, making this his 40th season. Tough to describe anyone with 40 years of professional experience as a quitter) the Reds jumped at the opportunity to hire a coach that one day may be their head man in charge.

In 2012, Riggleman was at the helm of the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The following year, he was moved up a rung to take over the Bats. Now, this season, he will be standing in the third base coach’s box—more of a looming presence in the dugout than he has ever been with the Reds.

Reds upper management made it very clear when they let former manager Dusty Baker walk after 2013 that the team was in no way lowering their expectations. First-year manager Bryan Price was allowed to have 2014 go poorly and still be able to retain his position at the head of the club. But, if 2015 travels down the same path with many of the Reds key pieces potentially hitting free agency by seasons end, the man standing down the third-base line may be looking at his fifth managerial opportunity sooner rather than later.