PHOENIX — For Davey Johnson, this is it. One more game in the Washington Nationals’ dugout. One more day in which the words ‘Nationals manager’ will come before his name. And while Johnson seems to have made his peace with that, particularly this last week between the tributes and the official elimination from postseason contention, what his role will be going forward remains a question mark.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he wants Johnson to remain an integral part of the organization, transitioning back to finish out his consulting contract as a senior advisor to the GM.
“We’ll see him throughout spring training,” Rizzo said Saturday. “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.”
Johnson, though, seems unsure of how involved he’d like to be. He will not, he said Sunday, be in uniform in spring training, out of respect to whoever it is that assumes the manager’s office in D.C. after him.
“I think probably me being in uniform in spring training is not a good idea,” Johnson said in his final pre-game session with the media. “Just out of respect for who’s there. A day like today, I’m passing the baton a little bit to some of my coaches.
“(And) whoever is in this uniform next year, I want them to be putting it on without thinking I want it back. Because I don’t.”
There have been a few names rumored to be on the Nationals’ list of candidates to become the next manager, with bench coach Randy Knorr and third base coach Trent Jewett included. Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams is also a name that has come up.
Rizzo, who has been mum on the manager’s search other than to say he will begin it in earnest once the season ends, said he will turn to Johnson for advice on hiring his successor. “It’d be a resource I’d be foolish not to tap into,” he said.
But Johnson noted that Rizzo’s track record in picking the last manager (him) worked out pretty well.
“That’s entirely up to Rizz,” Johnson said. “He’s a smart man.
“The last manager he hired did a good job. So he’s got pretty good judgment.”