WASHINGTON — Both the Washington Nationals and New York Mets interviewed Kevin Long to be their next manager this offseason. Both teams declined to hire him for the position but wanted him as their hitting coach.
The Washington Nationals won out.
One day after the World Series ended, the Nats announced the hiring of Dave Martinez as their next manager and that Long would serve as his hitting coach. Long was the hitting coach for the Mets over the last three seasons and is credited with turning Daniel Murphy into a superstar hitter.
Murphy credits Long with his powerful approach at the plate, but the love is mutual.
“He processes information probably as well as any hitter I’ve ever had,” Long said of Murphy in 2016. “He’s great at taking in information and applying it.
“It’s maximizing potential. We knew what Daniel Murphy was, but was there more in there? We thought he had more to give, and we’re seeing it.”
Murphy’s power numbers exploded under Long’s tutelage, including in the playoffs. The payoff was Murphy jumping ship to the Nationals. Now they’ve brought in his whisperer.
Before his time with the Mets, Long was across town with the New York Yankees between 2007-2014, working with players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and more. He twice oversaw the best offense in baseball and helped them win their 27th World Series Championship in 2009.
Part of the appeal of coming to the Nationals is that Long reunites professionally with his son, Jaron Long, who pitched in AA and AAA for the Nats in each of the last two seasons. He is a former undrafted free agent who signed with the Nats in April 2016, turning in season ERAs of 3.20 and 3.61.
If the younger Long makes his Major League debut in 2018, the elder Long now has a much better chance of witnessing it.