"'Davey’s going to be a consultant for us, and we’ll see him throughout spring training,'" Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo explained this past September in a conversation with reporters, including NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, when he was asked what role outgoing skipper Davey Johnson would play in 2014.
When the Nats officially announced Johnson's return for a final run in 2013, the deal he signed brought him back for one more run in 2013, before he shifted to a consultant's role.
"'He’ll be meandering through our minor-league system,'" Rizzo said. "'Not only looking at our players but also helping our coaches and managers, learning their craft, evaluating them and helping them improve.'" Johnson, however, was clear when the comments were brought to his attention the day after Rizzo said what he did, that he wouldn't be in uniform this spring.
"'I think probably me being in uniform in Spring Training is not a good idea,'" Johnson told the Washington Times in his final pre-game meeting with the press. "'Just out of respect for who’s there.'"
"'(And) whoever is in this uniform next year," the 70-year-old manager continued, "'I want them to be putting it on without thinking I want it back. Because I don’t.'"
When new Nats' skipper Matt Williams spoke to reporters at the Winter Meetings last week, however, he said he had reached out to his predecessor to make sure Johnson knew he was welcome to return to Space Coast Stadium.
"'I told Davey, I asked him to come to Spring Training,'" Williams said. "'He's not far from the Spring Training complex. He is extremely respectful of me and the staff and doesn't want to step on anybody's toes. So hopefully he will call and let us know he's coming, and make a big to‑do. We'll have a big cake. Again, he wished me good luck, and I asked him to be present and he's still in an advisory role with the team. I asked him to come into the office and sit down and talk baseball. And I'd love to pick his brain. Hopefully he accepts that and we can do that.'"
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When Johnson spoke to the Washington Post's James Wagner for a story today, he seemed more amenable to the idea of at least talking to the Nationals' new manager and offering any advice he could pass on to Williams:
"'If [Williams] wants me to come by his office and chat, I will,' Johnson said. 'But if I was a young manager, I wouldn’t want an old manager coming by.'"
The baseball-lifer will return to a role similar to the one he played before taking over on the bench in the nation's capital following Jim Riggleman's decision to resign in 2011.
Rizzo talked then about the important part Johnson played in his own and the organization's growth.
"He was a resource for me through all the early times and the early decisions we made," the Nats' GM explained that fall, "and he was a comfortable guy to have in Spring Training to bounce things off of and he was the easy choice for me when we had to make a change at the major league level."
Just how big a role he will play in 2014 is unclear, but Davey Johnson is not quite done with the Nationals yet.
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