Report: Nats give Rizzo GM job
WASHINGTON -- After 5½ months of doing the work of the Washington Nationals' general manager, Mike Rizzo is getting the title, too.
Rizzo might have been Washington's acting general manager, but he was still technically an assistant GM. Now he will be moved up to GM, two people in Major League Baseball familiar with the Nationals' plans said Wednesday.
The pair confirmed Rizzo's promotion to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement is planned for Thursday.
"The things he's done since he's been on board have been really good, and they've made us a better team," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said after the team's 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night. "It's not our place to decide what people in the front office are here or there, but to have him around, I think would be good."
Rizzo was given the general manager's duties shortly after Jim Bowden abruptly resigned as Washington's GM during spring training on March 1.
The news is part of a big week for the Nationals. It comes less than 48 hours after Rizzo concluded negotiations on a record $15.1 million contract with No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander from San Diego State will be introduced to fans at a pregame news conference on the field before Washington's game Friday night.
It was Rizzo who was on the phone with agent Scott Boras, negotiating down to the wire on the Strasburg deal. It was Rizzo who was put in front of reporters to discuss those talks. It was Rizzo who was shown on the outfield scoreboard at Nationals Park before Tuesday's game, talking about the Strasburg deal.
Giving Rizzo the full-fledged job lends a measure of stability to a franchise that rarely has enjoyed any, dating to its days as the Montreal Expos. Indeed, one of Rizzo's key decisions in the coming months will be what to do about the manager: Jim Riggleman was given that job on an interim basis when Manny Acta was fired last month.
Rizzo joined the Nationals as assistant GM in July 2006, after seven seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, primarily as director of scouting. A minor league player for four years, he is widely regarded as a strong evaluator of talent.
With his head-start during this season, Rizzo already has begun the task of what he likes to say is a building -- not a rebuilding -- for a perennially last-place team on pace for a second consecutive 100-loss season.
He reconfigured the disastrous bullpen Bowden had assembled. Rizzo also acquired new leadoff hitter and center fielder Nyjer Morgan in a June 30 trade with Pittsburgh, a move widely credited with spurring Washington's recent run of better play.
"He's shown both aggressiveness and patience with the makeup of our roster," Riggleman said before Wednesday's game, "and I think the result is we're playing better baseball because he's solidified our roster."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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