- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2011

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — When the season ends Wednesday, the Washington Nationals will begin the process of searching for their 2012 manager. Their list, general manager Mike Rizzo said Sunday, is not long. They know what they want and who they’re looking at.

And when it’s over, the guy in the dugout next spring may well be the same one who’s there now: Davey Johnson.

But their list of candidates could dwindle soon if third base coach Bo Porter is hired elsewhere. Porter interviewed for the Florida Marlins‘ managerial opening Monday and is thought to be high on their list. The Marlins are expected to move swiftly with their decision on who will replace 80-year-old Jack McKeon, who announced Monday that he plans to retire after the season.

Bo Porter is an outstanding third base [coach] and baseball man,” Johnson said Monday. “I hope he’s back. I hope [his interview] went well. But I hope we don’t lose him.”

This is the third time Porter has interviewed with the Marlins after interviewing twice during the 2010 season - first when Fredi Gonzalez was fired midseason and then after the season when the Marlins opted to go with Edwin Rodriguez, who resigned in June. Porter also interviewed for the Pirates’ opening last offseason but accepted the Nationals third base coaching job under then-manager Jim Riggleman when Pittsburgh opted to go with Clint Hurdle.

Porter, who coached or managed almost all of the Marlins‘ current roster during a 2005-09 stint with the organization at the minor and major league levels, declined to comment.

A report by the Chicago Sun-Times late Monday, however, said the White Sox were in the “final stages” of completing a deal to send Ozzie Guillen to Florida to manage the Marlins in 2012.

Porter also is considered a main candidate for the Nationals’ opening — if there is one — and Rizzo thinks highly of him The GM interviewed Porter for the Nationals’ managerial job before the 2010 season but ultimately hired Riggleman, who’d been the interim manager.

“I brought Bo in here,” Rizzo said when asked about Porter as a candidate for next season. “He’s a terrific baseball guy and certainly a major league-manager candidate.”

If Johnson does return, the Nationals will have to make decisions on the rest of their coaching staff, including Porter. The feeling is that unless Porter is hired as Nationals manager or to manage another major league team, he would return. First base coach Trent Jewett and Triple-A manager Randy Knorr also are thought to be under consideration for the manager’s job.

Knorr is well-liked in the organization and has managed a large percentage of Washington’s current roster while the players were coming through the minor leagues. He is open to interviewing for the position but also would also relish an opportunity to return to the Triple-A level.

“I think Randy Knorr is definitely a major league-manager candidate,” Rizzo said. “His goal is to manage in the major leagues, and I think he’s a great candidate and a great baseball guy, and I feel very lucky to have him in the organization.”

Neither Johnson nor Rizzo has wavered in their stance that Johnson is not a sure thing for the 2012 season, though his three-year consulting contract does include an option for him to manage the team next year. The decision is not expected to come until the season is over and a search following MLB guidelines has been conducted.

“The biggest factor is whether they want me,” Johnson reiterated Monday. “That’s No. 1. And No. 2, I’d like to have a say-so in seeing how much they would want my opinion on trades and free agent signings and that stuff. I love the talent level, and I love what we have in the development stages.”

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