CHICAGO — Washington Nationals interim manager John Mclaren, the short-term replacement for departed manager Jim Riggleman, will leave the on-field coaching staff following Sunday’s game and be reassigned to a front-office position, general manager Mike Rizzo said.
With the Nationals on the verge of completing a deal to bring Davey Johnson on as the team’s manager, McLaren will become an assistant to Rizzo in a role that will likely include some scouting responsibilities. The change, Rizzo said, was a joint decision between the two of them after McLaren considered leaving the organization altogether.
“John and I had a long discussion,” Rizzo said. “It was kind of a mutual decision. I think he had an allegiance to Jim Riggleman and had some thoughts about really wanting to get out of uniform and into trying something different.”
McLaren has said several times that this has been a rough couple of days, for the Nationals and him personally, following the sudden resignation of Riggleman Thursday afternoon.
“Things have been very difficult around here,” he said Saturday afternoon. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster but the players are focused. I don’t think they meant any disrespect to myself and Jim Riggleman but they know they have a job to do and they’re just doing their jobs.”
Despite falling to the White Sox 3-0 on Saturday, the Nationals remain one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 12 of their past 14 games to surge to third place in the National League East and 4 1/2 games out of the National League Wild Card spot.
The news that McLaren would be leaving was met with disappointment in the clubhouse. He was a well-liked coach who’d been manning the Nationals bench since the start of the 2010 season.
“It’s good that he’s going to stay in the organization,” said Jerry Hairston Jr. “He’s a great baseball man and it’s just tough. Obviously it’s tough on the players when a manager leaves but it’s tough on the coaches, too. They had planned to be here obviously the whole year and for Mac to be leaving us, it’s tough for a lot of us because he’s truly a hard worker and a lot of guys really love him here. He’s definitely going to be missed.”
“It’s disappointing, but he’s an asset to the organization and I think he’s going to be equally as good to the younger guys down there,” said shortstop Ian Desmond who has spent the majority of his major league career working with McLaren. “Wherever he’s going, he’s going to be able to help somebody. I know he helped me and I’m sure he’s not going to shy away from helping anybody else in the future.”