“I like the area,” he said. “That’s why I like Washington so much.”

Friday, however, will be the first time Johnson will be back in Baltimore in any official capacity. After success as a manager in 1996 and 1997, Johnson’s relationship with the team went cold after he resigned following a dispute with owner Peter Angelos.

“I have a lot of telephone calls for passes,” Johnson quipped before Thursday’s game. “So I have a few friends.”

Asked about his relationship with Angelos, however, Johnson was reluctant to answer.

“We have to go there?” he said. “I’m fine. I’m still an Oriole fan.”

Johnson signed with the Orioles in 1962 and spent eight seasons in Baltimore as a player, earning four all-star appearances, winning three Gold Gloves and winning World Series titles in 1966 and 1970.

After managing the Mets and Reds, Johnson took over as manager of the Orioles in 1996. He guided them to consecutive appearances in the American League Championship Series and was named the 1997 AL manager of the year. But a few hours after receiving the award, he resigned because of his dispute with Angelos. Since then, much has changed in Baltimore, which, until this season’s resurgence, suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

“The only history I know in Baltimore is always being a contender and a great team, great organization,” Johnson said. “And I know they haven’t been living up to that reputation and it’s great to see them doing the things that most Oriole teams I’ve ever been involved with did. I know they beat us two out of three here. And I’d like to return that favor. They’ve got a good ballclub.”

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