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“[Former Orioles owner] Edward Bennett Williams once told me at Cal Ripken’s wedding, ‘No I’s, no R’s: no indecision, no regrets,’ ” Palmer said. “Davey lives that motto, from what I saw. He relies on his gut feeling, his preparation and his knowledge. He’s going to do whatever he thinks is right.”

Enthusiasm for the future

As much as Riggleman’s resignation caught the Nationals by surprise and provided an immediate need, Johnson also chose to return. On some levels, he instilled confidence in his players by that act alone: One of the 20 winningest managers in major league history chose to come out of retirement for this team, for these players.

“I love young players,” Johnson said. “I love talented young players. There’s a lot of energy in this Nationals organization. And the talent is coming. It’s showing its value on the major league level for the first time in a long time.”

So why, after over a decade has passed since he last managed, are the Nationals right? The answer, it seems, involves both sides of the equation.

The past 11 years have not been easy for Johnson personally. He first endured the death of his daughter, Andrea, in 2005, and then the passing of his stepson, Jake, earlier this year. He’s been through serious health issues in the meantime, including a ruptured appendix and a cardiac ablation process to fix an arrhythmic hearth beat.

In much less significant ways, the Nationals have not had the easiest few years, either. But this is a new season, with new players and a new attitude infused in the clubhouse. This is a team that is 40-41 for the first time in six years. It’s a team with its ace on the mend in Florida and the most-hyped power-hitting prospect in a generation learning the rigors of a baseball life in Single-A — both of whom Johnson knows personally.

It’s an organization with a future as bright as its past is dark. And that’s why it’s right for Johnson.

“I think it’s a perfect storm,” Rizzo said. “It’s the right time for him. He senses this is the right organization, the right general manager and leadership group. He’s got a bond with a lot of these players already — not only the current players on the 25-man roster, but he has a bond with the minor league system and the prospects that will help us for years to come.”

It’s an organization that could be on the brink of contention, if not this year then certainly in the near future, and in need of a stern hand to guide them there. And that’s why Johnson is right for them.

“If I’m Mike Rizzo, I admire Riggleman. He’s had a storied career as a baseball man and everybody respects him greatly,” Palmer said. “But if you’re going to have a manager come in, don’t you want to have a manager that you know can really manage? That’s what they have in Davey Johnson.”