- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2011

For three years, John McLaren has waited for his next opportunity to manage a major league team. Friday, he’ll get that chance — but it likely will be a short-lived tenure.

Following the resignation of manager Jim Riggleman on Thursday afternoon, McLaren was expected to be named the team’s interim manager. But sources indicate he may only manage through the series against the White Sox in Chicago.

The Nationals’ plan at this point, according to a source, is to have a manager for the rest of the season in place by Monday. Senior advisor to the general manager Davey Johnson is high on their list of candidates.

Johnson’s track record as a player and manager in the majors is well-documented. He has managed the Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, winning the 1986 World Series with New York. He has been a member of the Nationals’ front office since November 2009 but hasn’t managed a big-league team since Los Angeles in 1999-2000.

With McLaren, the Nationals’ bench coach since the start of the 2010 season, at the helm for the next three days, Washington will try to continue the winning brand of baseball that has brought it to third place in the National League East.

“I’ve been around for a while, but I think this is the first time I’ve been on a club where the manager resigned or got fired. This is obviously a new experience for a bunch of us,” said veteran Jerry Hairston Jr. “But this is the big leagues. You’ve got a job to do, bottom line. Our job is to win ballgames. No one’s going to feel sorry for you.”

Every member of Riggleman’s coaching staff had been invited to stay, but the decision was theirs to make. Naming McLaren as an interim manager seemingly indicates that the Nationals plan to find the manager for the rest of the season from somewhere other than the current coaching staff.

“As you can see, it’s taken us a little by surprise,” Rizzo said. “[But] by no means is there no leadership and person in charge of the organization. We feel that we’re going in the right direction. We continue to feel that way. The leadership is very, very strong and committed to put a winner on the field, a championship-caliber organization, and we will continue to be committed to that.”

A long-tenured major league bench coach, McLaren’s managerial experience came with Seattle when he took over for Mike Hargrove in 2007. He was relieved of those duties June 19, 2008, after leading Seattle to a 25-47 record that season and, ironically, replaced by his then-bench coach, Riggleman.

The Nationals have plenty of in-house options, in addition to McLaren and Johnson, in third-base coach Bo Porter, coach Trent Jewett and Triple-A Syracuse manager Randy Knorr.

Porter, who is widely considered an up-and-coming managerial prospect, was in contention for the Florida Marlins’ managerial job during the offseason. He name surfaced again this week when Florida dealt with its managerial vacancy. Porter’s voice is respected in the clubhouse, and several players have complimented his insights on the game as a third base coach.

Jewett, Baseball America’s 2007 “Best Manager Prospect,” and Knorr also are well-regarded candidates from within the organization.

Said shortstop Ian Desmond: “In sports or any business you have to make decisions. I think with the veteran presence we have and the pitching staff we have, we’re going to win ballgames regardless.”

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