Along with the official announcement on Sunday afternoon that Davey Johnson would take over on the bench for the Washington Nationals, replacing former Nats' skipper Jim Riggleman who resigned abruptly last Thursday, came the news that John McLaren, who'd served as Riggleman's bench coach and interim replacement in the three games with the White Sox this weekend, would remain with the organization, taking off the uniform and working in an as-year-undetermined scouting position.
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo avoided stating unequivocally that the changes on Washington's coaching staff were done. Davey Johnson's bench coach hasn't yet but will be announced, and there's no word on whether the coaches currently with the Nats will remain there.
"That's probably a questions for Davey," Rizzo responded when MASN's Debbi Taylor did ask before Sunday's series finale with Chicago if more changes were expected. "Davey's going to sit down and meet with everybody when we get to Los Angeles, and we'll have a better feel for it then. Davey's been in Spring Training for two years, he knows the whole staff. He knows them, he likes them, and he has a great rapport with all of them. So, I'm not expecting wholesale changes by any means, but I'm going to leave the tweaking of the staff up to Davey, because he has to be comfortable where he's at and put people that he feels are on the same page as him in a place of power."
Johnson will reportedly name his new bench coach at some point this week. Several writers, including CSN Washington.com's Mark Zuckerman in an article entitled, "Johnson to manage Monday; McLaren leaving staff", have suggested, "...Trent Jewett (currently an extra coach on the staff) and Pat Corrales and Bob Schaefer (currently special assistants to Rizzo)," as options for Johnson's new bench coach.
Johnson will also have a say in naming the next manager whether it's for 2012 or later in the future. A press release from the Nats announced that Johnson, "will direct the Nationals on the field for the remainder of the 2011 season," and, "He also agreed to a three-year consulting contract that will have him remain with the Nationals after this season and allow him to participate in the hiring of his successor."
In officially announcing that Johnson would become the bench coach this morning, though it was widely known as early as last Friday, less than twenty-four hours after Riggleman had announced his resignation, the Nats' GM said in a press release that Washington, "'...could have absolutely no better choice to lead the Nationals at this time than Davey Johnson,'" who, according to Theodore N. Lerner, Washington's Managing Principal Owner, "'... can provide so much immediate leadership and credibility.'"
"He knows the game," Rizzo continued in the official release on Johnson, "He knows our players, he knows our fans, he knows the Washington, DC area, and he knows exactly what we need to be doing to build the Nationals into a contender."
Johnson was the 17th hire the Nats' general manager made in 2009 when he overhauled the D.C. front office, but as the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin wrote at the time in an article entitled, "Washington Nationals hire Davey Johnson as a senior adviser", when Rizzo began to put together his, "dream team of accomplished scouts, executives and baseball thinkers," there was one person in particular Rizzo hoped to hire. "Near the top of his list of dream hires was Davey Johnson," Mr. Sheinin wrote. Johnson's been part of the organization for more than the two years he's served as a special assistant to the GM, tonight he returns to the bench for the first game of three with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
"I think we're very fortunate," Rizzo told MASN's Debbi Taylor on Sunday afternoon, "that we have a person within arm's distance that has the resume he has, that has the knowledge he has, really the knowledge of the organization on the minor league side, throughout the organization and on the major league side." Johnson was within arm's distance because Rizzo hired him. When Davey Johnson manages tomorrow night's game against the Angels it will be his 1013th major league game, the first since 2000, and the start of another new era for the Nats.