Davey Johnson's return to the bench in the nation's capital with the Nats was announced on Monday morning. It had been assumed from the moment Johnson took over as the manager of the Washington Nationals this past June. Asked when he knew that he wanted to continue on beyond the 2011 campaign by ESPN 980's The Sports Fix's Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro in an interview this afternoon, the 68-year-old skipper said, "No. 1, I knew a lot of the people in the front office and I knew a lot of the players and I really like the direction that ownership is taking this ballclub. When I saw it firsthand, the mix of guys that I inherited wasn't quite what I wanted, but I knew that the mix was in the organization. But you can't really get to the kind of mix you want right away, and when we finally got to the mix of where I didn't have to stretch the relievers, ask more of them and I could protect the starters a little more, and had a little more flexibility off the bench, it really became fun for me."
The Nats' manager also talked about putting the team together and working with D.C. GM Mike Rizzo to find the right balance for the 2012 Nationals' roster. "I really respect Mike," Johnson said, "and I think I've gained some of his respect also. In all the conversations I've had with him over the last couple years, he's been right on." A roster, the 15-year-veteran manager explained, is built for the incumbent manager with, "... better defense, more speed, that kind of stuff," emphasized before he took over. "Well, my emphasis always is a little bit more on balancing all aspects of the game of baseball. Whether it's defense, base running, offense, pitching roles. I want us to be good in all those areas, because when you're good in all those areas then you can go out and have a lot of fun and win a bunch of ballgames."
"As far as I'm concerned, I think the parts that we have in the system are there," Johnson said when asked about how active he thinks the Nationals will be in the free agent market, "Maybe utilizing them on the major league level may be a little bit of a rush, but [at] this day and time, I always like to see guys come from within the system, they've earned the right to compete at the major league level and they have the talent. A lot of times, the kind of old baseball philosophy is, well if he's young and he's not playing every day, then don't take him on the ballclub, send him out for more seasoning. Well, I think you can fill a lot of the roles that we're lacking in-house. There's always going to be a few guys that you're really going to earmark that can fill in some areas where I think we don't have the depth that we really need to have to withstand injuries at the major league level without having to be held hostage and going out and getting people."
What was perhaps the most interesting discussion during the interview came toward the end, however, when the talk turned to what the future held for Davey Johnson? Johnson explained that he tends to take things on a day-to-day basis. "I want what's best for the organization, that's what you pay me for is to do the things, make decisions on a daily basis that are best for the organization on that particular day as well as tomorrow."
It's not about the future for him, Johnson said, but as for the Nats' future, he continued, "I think there's some really good baseball people in our system and I think the best thing in a system is ideally you develop some future managers and future big league coaches from within the system, because they know the talent and they kind of continue the way you play the game of baseball. So, I think, and I've told Mike and I told you guys, I think I'm the perfect fit to manage them next year and I'm looking forward to that challenge. I'm already starting to wake up in the middle of the night thinking about things."
• LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE IN ESPN980's Audio Vault.