(Nick Wass/AP)

“Because we’ve done this exercise before, we’ve got a very streamlined group of high-quality candidates that we’re going to talk to,” Rizzo said. “I anticipate the process being much quicker because we’ve already identified a lot of the candidates that we’re going to talk to.

“I have a tentative timetable that I’m not going to share with anybody, because I don’t want to be held to it. But we certainly have a plan that we’d like to put in place so we can get on with the offseason.”

Rizzo said he will interview candidates both inside and outside the organization. He did not directly say either third base coach Bo Porter or Class AAA Manager Randy Knorr would receive an interview, but he called them both “major-league manager candidate(s).” Porter will interview for the Florida Marlins’ vacant managerial position.

While the Nationals will conduct the search, the expectation remains that Johnson himself will return. Johnson will work for the Nationals in some capacity for the next two years, having a signed a contract through 2013 that will make him a consultant if he is not the Nationals’ manager. The Nationals must decide on his future by Oct. 31, per the contract.

“I love Davey,” Rizzo said. “He’s going to be back next year in some capacity. Either as the manager of the ballclub or have a big say as to who is the manager of the ballclub.”

Johnson has steadfastly kept his focus on the present when asked about 2012. He did say he plans to see Bryce Harper in the Arizona Fall League once the season ends, after some personal downtime.

“I plan on managing today and in Miami and going home and playing a little golf and relaxing and introducing myself to my wife and my dog and my kids,” Johnson said. “There’s a long process it’s got to go through, and I’m very comfortable with that. In the meantime, there are some fish that want to get to know me in my backyard and also at the coast.”