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Washington Nationals Officially Announce Jim Riggleman's Return To The Bench.

As far back as July 23rd, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was quoted directly by's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Riggleman to manage Nats next season", saying clearly, "Yes, he will be back next season," when asked if the Nats' manager Jim Riggleman would return in 2011, and the 57-year-old Rockville, MD-raised Mr. Riggleman's agent, Burton Rocks, told the reporter Ken Rosenthal in a late September update entitled, "Riggleman likely to be back in D.C. in '11" , that though there was a clause in Mr. Riggleman's contract that allowed the Nats to, "dismiss him after [the 2010] season and pay him only a buyout," he was confident his client was, "...coming back next year. All indications are that there is not going to be a change.'" Mr. Rosenthal did note, however, that Mr. Rocks had said that, "...the Nats’ decision is not yet official; the team’s owners [were] scheduled to meet," later that week.

Mr. Riggleman himself told's Mr. Ladson in a post-season Q&A entitled, "Q&A with Jim Riggleman", that, "[I've] been given every indication that I'm coming back," but the bench coach-turned-field manager admitted that he hadn't, "...signed on the dotted line." Riggleman guided the Nats through a [double-switch-filled] 69-93 campaign and to a not-unexpected last place finish in the NL East, though the team did manage a 10-win improvement over the previous two seasons in which they'd gone 59-103 and 59-102. 

The Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo officially announced this afternoon that field manager Jim Riggleman would be back on the bench in 2011 for his second full season as the Nationals' Skipper. Riggleman (102-135 on the bench in Washington) was originally brought to the nation's capital as a bench coach when then-Manager Manny Acta's original staff was replaced following the 2008 season, and on July 14th of 2009, Riggleman succeeded Acta on the bench, going 33-42 in the final 75 games on the '09 schedule. The Nationals got off to an impressive 20-15 start in 2010, and played .500 ball through the end of May, but an 8-19 June ended any illusions. The Nats were 30-43 in the so-called second-half of 2010 season, avoiding the third-straight 100-loss campaign, but finishing 28.0 games out of first place. 

In a press conference during the Nats' last homestand of 2010, Mr. Riggleman told the media that the, "Nationals fans have been great in terms of the support, the positive energy that they display when we are winning a game or when we're rallying to get into a game, about to take a lead, if we are fighting back...Our fans, you don't get the negative stuff that you see a lot of places. Our players are never booed. I know that the number of fans is going to grow as our team gets better and we put more wins there. But never mind the numbers that aren't there, the people who are there have just been great."

"We've got to win more games for these people," Riggleman said, and if the Nationals are going to win more games, " generally comes back to pitching," in the manager's mind. "The bottom line is it's pitching," Riggleman said, "whether it's dominated from your bullpen or hopefully from your starting rotation, we need to make that next jump, and we made a jump this year, we went from probably second-to-last in the league in pitching last year to maybe four slots up this year, but we need to take it up another three or four slots." Asked if he thought the Nationals needed to add anything to the team's offense, the manager said, "I don't know if we need to add anything as much as we just need to be more of what we are."

"I think Ryan Zimmerman and Adam [Dunn], they did what we thought they would do. Willingham was doing what we thought he could do, he got hurt, but we kinda know what he can do and he did it, Ryan, Adam same way. We just need to get on base a little more, [our OBP as a team] needs to go up a little bit, whether it's your one and two hitter, whether you get a nice surprise down there at six or seven in the lineup that's doing that, we need to be on base a little more and set the table a little more for those big guys in the middle."

The Nats will have to sign two of the three big guys in the middle with Josh Willingham up for one final year of arbitration and Dunn about to go free agent league-wide five days after the World Series ends. Ryan Zimmerman's locked up through 2013. The Nats are reportedly in the market for the no.1 pitcher both the manager and GM believe is needed with Stephen Strasburg out, and the Nats might need a first baseman and could use another outfielder in case those on the roster don't play up to (and above in some cases) their potential...Will the Nats finally give a manager a roster that can compete in the NL East in 2011? Their first year since '06 without Stan Kasten. The first year in D.C. GM Mike Rizzo's 5-year extension...Will 2011 be more of the same, or a real move forward?

• (ed. note - "Earlier this month the Nationals also announced, as's Bill Ladson reported in an article entitled, "Nats retaining entire coaching staff for 2011" that the entire coaching staff: Jim Lett in the pen, John McLaren on the bench, Dan Radison standing at first, Pat Listach at third, Rick Eckstein working with the hitters and Steve McCatty the pitchers, would return with Mr. Riggleman.")