Monday evening, a reporter asked Davey Johnson whether he thought the Rick Eckstein firing could possibly have been a symbolic move meant to force his hand and make him resign his own position. (Watch it here.) Johnson didn’t seem to appreciate the question, and he never answered it.
By Wednesday morning, the manager was in a better mood, laughing and joking with the Junkies during his weekly appearance on 106.7 The Fan. And when Eric Bickel asked virtually the same question, Johnson quickly answered it. (Read and listen here.)
“I don’t think so, not at all,” Johnson said, to the suggestion that Rizzo might be forcing his hand. “I think the Lerners are one of the best owners in baseball, and I think Mike Rizzo is, if not the best, then at the top of the GMs. I think he’s got great judgment. I didn’t agree with him on this call, and there could be other things that I don’t agree with him on. But, you know, he’s the boss. That’s the bottom line.”
John Auville soon asked if this season’s struggles have made him want to manage another year; “It makes me think I probably waited too long,” Johnson quipped.
And Bickel then asked if there were any chance Johnson would quit before this season ends.
“No,” the manager said. “I mean, I might slit my wrists or something, but I’m not quitting.”
Yes, he was joking. Later, Jason Bishop asked Johnson if the Nats might be buyers at the trade deadline.
“No,” Johnson said. “We’re still very young, and we still have a lot of talented youngsters in the minor leagues that haven’t quite gotten ready to play in the big leagues. So there’s no sense — I don’t see anybody that we’d sell. And I don’t see any need to be buyers. I mean, last year we didn’t do anything at the trade deadline. I thought we had all the parts here. Now we’ve got some new parts; we just need to get them in the swing of things.”
Which seemed to be Johnson’s basic message throughout: he still likes his players, he still likes his team, and he wants to remain positive.
“You know, you’ve just got to remain optimistic,” he said, when asked about motivational gambits. “And you’ve got to remain upbeat. Hey, here we go boys, let’s go. Have some fun. That kind of thing. This is not football or basketball where you can get on an emotional high that can help you win. You know, this is a skill sport. You’ve got to go out there and have it totally under control to perform at the highest level. I mean, if I thought jumping up and down and ranting and raving would work, I’d have been doing it my whole career.”