As Washington Nationals' General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo described it in an interview with reporters, including CSNWashington.com's Mark Zuckerman, this weekend from Arizona's Chase Field, the role Davey Johnson will take on now within the organization will have him back doing the sort of consulting he was doing before taking over on the bench after Jim Riggleman resigned in the middle of the 2011 campaign:
"'Davey’s going to be a consultant for us, and we’ll see him throughout spring training. He’ll be meandering through our minor-league system not only looking at our players but also helping our coaches and managers, learning their craft, evaluating them and helping them improve. He’s going to be an important piece for us and a guy who I can bounce a lot of things off.'"
The Nationals dropped the final game of the 2013 season and Davey Johnson's final game as their manager to the Diamondbacks, 3-2, falling to 86-76 on the year after winning the NL East in 2012 with a 98-64 record.
"It was a fun ride and a great group of guys and it's time to go home. Put me out to pasture," Johnson told reporters after the season-ending loss. The 70-year-old skipper moves on having led the Nationals to a 224-183 record in two-plus seasons as the manager in the nation's capital. Johnson steps aside after his 17th season as a major league manager with a 1372-1071 record.
He was asked after today's game if it was any more emotional than any other game?
"No. I have one emotion during a ballgame and that's pretty much it," Johnson said.
Did he talk to his players one last time after game 162 of 162 in 2013?
"No. I've spoken enough," he said, " I said something last night. That's enough for them. I'm not dropping off the face of the earth. I'm still going to be around. I might even see you guys again. Who knows?"
Twenty-six-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark did all he could to earn Johnson his 1,373rd win as a manager, giving up just three hits and one unearned run in seven innings of work in which he threw 95 pitches and induced 16 ground ball outs. Roark finished his first stint in the majors with a 1.51 ERA, a 2.41 FIP, 1 HR (0.17 HR/9), 11 BB (1.84 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.71 K/9) in 13 games, five starts and 53 2/3 IP.
"Every time he's out there I've liked his work," Johnson told reporters after the game. "He's been outstanding. This is a good-hitting ballclub. He makes his pitches. He's unfazed. If we boot a ball behind him he goes right after them. He's got a heck of a shot next year of making this club."
Would Johnson, in his role as an advisor, recommend Roark for a starting role next season?
"If they ask me," he said.
The Nationals led 2-1 through seven and a half in the series and season finale with the D-Backs this afternoon, but Ryan Mattheus gave up four singles and two runs in the bottom of the eighth with the fourth hit a two-out RBI infield single by D-Backs' outfielder A.J. Pollock, who bounced a low liner back to the mound off Mattheus' foot, then slid in headfirst to beat the toss to first after the Nats' reliever had recovered the ball. Pollock, in a rare instance of the headfirst slide working, was ruled safe at first and the go-ahead run scored on the play. Johnson was asked if he thought about heading out to talk to first base ump Tim McLelland for one more go-round with a major league umpire?
"No," Johnson said. "No. McLelland already came in the dugout and mimicked [pitching coach Steve] McCatty, [in a gruff voice]: 'Where is it?' Where is it?' So, I don't know, it was a pretty close play, I don't know if he had him or not. Did the replay show he was out or safe?"
"It looked like he was close, but out," was the consensus from reporters.
"Yeah. I was a little worn out by then," Johnson said. "So, anyway. It's nice seeing you guys. Goodbye."
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