Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, the oldest skipper in the major leagues, sounds as if he wants to return to Washington for the 2013 season. General Manager Mike Rizzo, who hired Johnson midway through 2011 and has watched him manage the Nationals to the brink of a division title, wants Johnson back. What remains as the Nationals prepare for Washington’s first postseason appearance since 1933: the details of a contract.
In separate interviews over the past week, Johnson and Rizzo said they have begun discussing Johnson’s potential return. Neither seem concerned that the talks will result in anything other than a new deal for the 69-year-old manager.
“I want him in that chair next year,” Rizzo said. “I’ve asked him to be in the chair next year. I think he wants to be in the chair next year, and we’re discussing it.”
When the Nationals clinched a postseason berth last week, Johnson became just the second manager — Billy Martin was the other — to lead four franchises to the playoffs. After more than a decade apart from stints managing the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson said he has been energized by his experience with the Nationals. He is focused, he said, on getting the Nationals to clinch the National League East championship. But the subject of next year has entered his mind.
“The only reason I’ve thought about it is the general manager has talked to me about it,” Johnson said. “Last year, when the year was over, they went through the manager’s search and I gave them the recommendation that they should hire me. And they got to that.
“I’m very comfortable. They paid me to manage this year. I’m comfortable waiting however long they want me to.”
When Rizzo was named the permanent general manager in August 2009, one of his first moves was to hire Johnson as a consultant. Johnson served in that role until June 2011, when Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned as manager. Rizzo then hired Johnson to return to a major league dugout for the first time since 2000, when he was fired as manager of the Dodgers.
“I’m comfortable with what my decision will be on who I recommend, because when the season’s over, I’m a consultant again,” Johnson said. “I could be pointing the finger right here again.”
This is the 12th full season Johnson has managed in the majors; it will be the 11th time his team has finished first or second in its division.