Davey Johnson joked in a late-season interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies that he wasn't sure how much input he would have in finding his successor after the 70-year-old skipper stepped aside at the end of the year.
"I don't know," Johnson told the hosts, "that's a good question. You need to ask somebody else -- I think [Mike] Rizzo and I think a lot alike. He's a smart man, he probably won't need a whole lot of input and he'll make the right choice."
Mike Rizzo, the Nats' GM, told reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, in a season-ending interview that it would be foolish not to take advantage of Johnson as a resource when making a decision on the next manager in Washington.
"'Of course we will,'" Rizzo said. "'It’d be a resource I’d be foolish not to tap into.'"
Johnson told reporters today, however, including the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, that he didn't have any say in the decision the Nationals have reportedly made to name Arizona Diamondbacks' third base coach Matt Williams the sixth manager in the nation's capital since 2005. Johnson endorsed the decision, though:
"'I think that’s a good choice,' said Johnson, the man Williams will replace. 'He’s more fiery, like Mike likes. I was probably too laid back for him. I think it’s good. I will definitely stay in the background.'"
Johnson, who is under contract through 2014 after signing a three-year deal in 2012 that keeps him on as a special assistant/consultant after two years on the bench, has previously stated that though he would be around and involved, he did say that he didn't plan on being in uniform next spring since he thought it disrespectful to his replacement.
"'I think probably me being in uniform in spring training is not a good idea,'" Johnson was quoted explaining by the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, "'Just out of respect for who’s there.'" Rizzo said the 70-year-old manager who guided the Nationals to their first NL East crown and first postseason appearance, would continue to have a voice in the organization.
"'He’s going to be an important piece for us,'" Rizzo said, "'and a guy who I can bounce a lot of things off.'"
When the Nationals' GM talked about finding a new manager in an ESPN980 interview with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro a few weeks back, he told The Sports Fix hosts that the next manager would inherit a team in a good position which was a unique situation. "Usually when there's a change in managers, it's usually because of a problem," Rizzo explained. "A disappointing season, a losing roster, teams that are really struggling. And there [are] usually a lot of losses tacked on to a manager getting fired. It's not the case here."
Johnson said the same when he spoke to the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore today, sort of... Johnson, who said often late in the season that the Opening Day roster in 2013 wasn't what he expected, told the WaPost reporter that his replacement would have a better roster than Johnson got in his final season as the Nats' manager. "'He’s coming into a good situation,'" Johnson said today. "'The bench will be in better shape and the bullpen will be in better shape. He’ll have better options than I had last year. I’m happy for him.'"
Mr. Kilgore's colleague at the Washington Post, Thomas Boswell, quoted Rizzo addressing similar statements by Johnson at the end of the year and joking that he could take it.
"'After 50 years [in the game], I guess he can throw me under the bus a little bit,' Rizzo said."
They'll sort this all out before Spring Training...
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