Davey Johnson still cares about the Washington Nationals, especially the players, but he wants to keep his distance. This team belongs to General Manager Mike Rizzo and new Manager Matt Williams. Johnson is no longer a key cog. Even before his replacement was hired, Johnson decided he didn’t want to come spring training out of respect for the new guy. Since then, however, Johnson and Williams have talked and there’s a standing, informal offer for Johnson to come to spring training whenever he wants.
Johnson, who will serve as a senior adviser to the team next season, is still mulling over the offer. But he said Friday that he plans to come to spring training once it is in full swing or near the end, perhaps in March. Johnson, who lives in Winter Park, Fla., about an hour away from the team’s spring training complex in Viera, is wary of drawing attention away from Williams or undermining him with his presence. He wouldn’t mind, however, seeing the players and other officials.
“If [Williams] wants me to come by his office and chat, I will,” Johnson said. “But if I was a young manager, I wouldn’t want an old manager coming by.”
Johnson, 70, has followed what the Nationals have done since he retired as manager and was pleased to see them shore up the bullpen (acquiring left-hander Jerry Blevins from the A’s) and add a veteran (Nate McLouth) to the bench. He has filled his time over the past two months since the end of the season getting tests and treatment on his balky back, hanging out with his grandchildren and fixing up things around the house. He plays golf a couple times a week. He went fishing with his wife, Susan, and friends last weekend. His wife’s clothing store in Winter Park is doing well and Johnson stops by often. They still haven’t gone on their vacation to Bora Bora, but there’s plenty of time.
“I’m having fun,” he said.