clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Getting to know new Padres first base coach Johnny Washington

Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Okay, first things first, we have got to talk about that name. "Johnny Washington" sounds like a fake name you'd give a cop when you get busted for having an open container in a bar parking lot. "Nah, man, I left my ID in the pants I was wearing before I took a shower." If I was reading a novel and came across a character named Johnny Washington, I would shut the book on the spot and make a mental note to never purchase another one of that author's works. If they're too lazy to come up with something better than that, I'm just going to assume they didn't put much work into the plot either.

Oddly, it seems that the Padres' new first base coach, who is replacing one year wonder Tarrik Brock, went by the first name Jay during his playing days, at least according to his Baseball Reference page. Why he switched is beyond me; whether he even switched is also a mystery - none of the articles I've found about him indicate that he previously went by another name. Whatever he was called at the time, Washington was a twenty-seventh-round pick by the Rangers out of junior college in 2003, which brings me to the second fairly irrelevant thing I'm going to rant about.

Washington is only 32 years old. I already felt elderly, but this just pushes it over the edge. It took me a decade or so to get okay with the fact that some major league players were younger than me, and by the time I fully accepted it, I was older than most. But a coach? A coach?! I just want to put on an episode of Matlock and curl up and die.

At any rate, young Johnny or Jay or whoever lasted four years in the Rangers' organization, playing in just 100 games and never getting above High-A. The middle infielder hit .185 with no power, then spent three years in independent ball before getting picked up by the Dodgers, for whom he played all of two games at High-A Inland Empire in 2009. His attention to detail and mind for the game had caught the eye of one of the organization's minor league managers, who put in a good word for him and got his coaching career kickstarted.

Starting in 2009 at the age of 25, Washington put in seven years with the Dodgers organization as a hitting coach at various low levels, where his crowning achievement was turning around a stubborn young outfielder named Joc Pederson, who was on the verge of washing out of baseball before even getting as far as Washington had as a player. To this day, Pederson credits Washington with saving his career and, as thanks, brought Washington with him to the 2015 All-Star festivities in Cincinnati to serve as his pitcher in the Home Run Derby.

Washington's first shot at AA ball, as a player or a coach, came last season when the Padres brought him into the fold as San Antonio's hitting coach. They must have liked what they saw because here he is, a major league first base coach.