The baseball winter meetings are being held this week at the Dolphin and Swan resorts in Lake Buena Vista. Former manager Davey Johnson is a senior adviser to the organization and lives nearby in Winter Park but he won’t be making an appearance at the annual convention that features most everyone in the baseball world except players. Johnson wants to keep his distance as not to overshadow new manager Matt Williams; it is no longer his team to manage. Johnson even said late in the season that he wanted stay away from spring training in 2014 “out of respect” for the new manager.
Williams, however, wants Johnson involved. Williams revealed on Tuesday that he has talked with Johnson since he was hired by the Nationals and even invited him to spring training.
“He is extremely respectful of me and the staff and doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” Williams said. “So hopefully he will call and let us know he’s coming, and make a big to‑do. We’ll have a big cake. He wished me good luck and I asked him to be present and he’s still in an advisory role with the team. I asked him to come into the office and sit down and talk baseball. And I’d love to pick his brain. Hopefully he accepts that and we can do that.”
Williams, 48, is a first-time major league manager and, in a short amount of time, already shown a willingness to adapt. He is ever self-aware, telling reporters on Tuesday that he knows he doesn’t have a wealth of managerial experience but wants to learn from everyone else in the organization. Sharing tips and building a relationship with Johnson would only help. General Manager Mike Rizzo intends to do so.
“I don’t know how much [Johnson] wants to be at spring training because he mentioned earlier on that he doesn’t want to take the spotlight off the new manager,” Rizzo said. “But Davey is an important part of the decision-making process and the counseling process more so. His input is important. He’s got a big global view of not only baseball but the whole Nationals team. I’m going to lean on him as much as he lets me lean on him.”