CHICAGO — As John McLaren prepared to manage his first game as the Nationals interim manager Friday evening in Chicago, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo reiterated that it is a short-term solution and the team expects to have a manager in place for the rest of the season soon.
“Days, not weeks,” Rizzo said when asked how long McLaren’s tenure could last.
As for who would take over, Davey Johnson is still atop the Nationals list with his name being the only one Rizzo brought up explicitly in a short session with reporters at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sources told the Washington Times Thursday night that Johnson was the front runner and it appears that has not changed. It is a fluid situation, though, with Rizzo working to hammer out the details and, “acquire a manager that will be our interim manager for the rest of 2011 and until we do that, (McLaren) be the short-term interim manager.”
Rizzo did say that the Nationals are actively discussing other options — including possibly some on the current coaching staff, who all elected to remain with the team after Jim Riggleman’s resignation Thursday afternoon.
One of the names often brought up for managerial openings is that of third base coach Bo Porter, who was mentioned when the Florida Marlins’ managerial position came open earlier this week.
“This is not the way you want your name to pop up,” Porter said Friday. “Obviously it was a decision that Jim made. At this time, the best thing we can do as a staff, as an organization, is pick up the pieces and keep this team moving. Because we have the rest of the season to play. It’s unfortunate what happened. But that’s the case in which we’re at right now.”
When asked explicitly if he was interested in the job or had been contacted about it, Porter said “I’m going to be the third base coach and do the best job as the third base coach.”
At this point, the Nationals still plan to fill the vacancy for 2011 with an internal option and will re-evaluate for the 2012 season. Rizzo said Friday that whomever is chosen could be considered for next season as well but that it would depend on the candidate.
The Nationals have two other members of their front office with MLB managerial experience in Bob Boone and Bob Schafer. Triple-A Syracuse manager Randy Knorr could also be considered and he has extensive knowledge of the organization and its farm system. Knorr managed several of the Nationals homegrown players on their way through the minor leagues and is very well respected among the players.