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Randy Knorr to interview soon, Nationals’ manager search still cranking up

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)
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Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr has been told by General Manager Mike Rizzo he will interview for Washington’s vacant managerial position “soon,” he said. The interview, which has been widely expected, has not been formally scheduled as the Nationals remain in the early stages of their search to replace Davey Johnson.

People close to the Nationals suggest Knorr appears to be the leading candidate, but it seems too early in the search to handicap with great precision. They have, for example, yet to ask the Diamondbacks for permission to speak with third base coach Matt Williams, according to a person familiar with the situation.

General Manager Mike Rizzo has close ties to Williams from their time together in Arizona, when Rizzo was the Diamondbacks’ scouting director and Williams played third base for them. Williams is considered the top candidate from outside the organization, and a request to interview is viewed as formality. It just hasn’t happened yet.

In the final months of the season, several prominent players expressed support for Knorr, including Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth, who said his first choice would be Cal Ripken but that he would be equally happy with Knorr.

“It means a great deal,” Knorr said. “It means at some point in their career, I affected them at some point.”

The Nationals have not asked the Padres permission to speak with Brad Ausmus, according to a person familiar with the situation. Ausmus, a longtime big league catcher, now works as a front office assistant in San Diego. Ausmus has for a few years been regarded as an up-and-coming managerial candidate, and has been mentioned as someone the Nationals will consider. It doesn’t mean they won’t interview him, but they haven’t asked for permission yet.

The biggest name connected to the position remains Ripken, even if it may be far-fetched. Ripken would be open to listening if a team asked him about a position, and only then would he weight various factors to decide if he wanted to return to baseball. But that has not happened yet.

Ripken would have to step away from a comfortable life, his lucrative businesses and the charity he runs in his father’s name to focus on a grinding job. In the summer, Johnson said he didn’t think Ripken would welcome a return to managing. Werth, though, said he would be great if he got the job.