Sources: Davey Johnson to lead Nats

Updated: June 26, 2011, 11:46 AM ET
By Nick Friedell | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- The Washington Nationals will name Davey Johnson as their new manager, according to a source familiar with the situation.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Saturday that Johnson has agreed to a deal, but there are a few technical items to figure out before the team can make an official announcement Sunday.

"It's language and dotting the I's and crossing the T's kind of stuff," Rizzo said. "There is no signed document yet. So we want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row and everything is in place before we make any kind of announcement."

Johnson, 68, has agreed to a contract through the 2012 season, with a club option for 2013, a source told ESPN.com Saturday. Rizzo would only say that Johnson will be evaluated at the end of the 2011 season.

"We just want to see how the season progresses and want to evaluate after that," Rizzo said. "Davey will be part of that evaluating process."

Davey Johnson
AP Photo/Rob CarrDavey Johnson, a special assistant with Washington, last managed in the big leagues in 2000.

Johnson, who has not managed in the majors since 2000, will join the team in Chicago on Sunday, fly with the Nationals to Los Angeles and take over Monday when they begin an interleague series against the Angels. ESPN.com originally reported Johnson would start managing Sunday.

Interim manager John McLaren, who took over for Jim Riggleman after he abruptly resigned Thursday, will run the team for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox and will be reassigned within the organization, Rizzo said.

McLaren will assist Rizzo in scouting and other duties.

"Kind of a mutual decision," Rizzo said. "I think he had allegiances to Jim Riggleman and had some thoughts about really wanting to get out of uniform and into trying something different."

Johnson, who has been a senior advisor with the Nationals since 2009, last managed in the big leagues in 2000 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won a World Series in 1986 as the manager of the New York Mets.

McLaren's duties as interim manager began Friday when he led the Nationals to a 14-inning win against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. McLaren was ejected in the eighth inning.

"I think Davey is a great baseball guy," said Ryan Zimmerman, who capped the 14th with a two-run double. "A lot of us were around him in spring training. We've got a good team here. We've got a great group of guys and whoever is the manager, whether it's Davey or whoever it is, they're going to be real happy with what we have here."

After the Nationals lost to the White Sox 3-0 Saturday, dropping his record to 1-1 since replacing Riggleman, McLaren wouldn't talk about his future, other than to say he would manage Sunday. He said he would meet with Johnson on Sunday and talk over things.

"People forget that when a manager leaves, it's tough on the coaches, too," Jerry Hairston, Jr. said. "They plan on being here all year. For Mac to be leaving is tough for a lot of us. He's really a hard worker and a lot of guys love him here."

The 68-year-old Johnson managed the Mets, Dodgers, Reds and Orioles over 14 seasons and compiled a 1,148-888 record. His 1986 Mets team won the World Series and Johnson's clubs finished first or second 11 times during his 14 previous seasons managing. He hasn't managed since 2000 when he was with the Dodgers.

"He was the manager of the Orioles when I got drafted by them," Hairston said.

"A lot of players loved playing for him. Very knowledgeable guy and won a World Series. Bottom line is he knows how to win. He definitely has credibility and he's coming into a good situation. He knows us, too, being a special assistant. He knows this team."

And even though he hasn't managed in the majors for 11 years, Johnson did skipper Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, the 2008 Olympic team and two summers ago managed amateur players in a Florida summer collegiate league.

The Nationals had won 11 of 12 before Riggleman quit after a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, saying he felt the franchise wasn't committed to him over the long term.

Riggleman wanted the Nationals to pick up his contract option for next year and said the reluctance of Rizzo to have a meeting on the subject reinforced his feeling that he was merely a placeholder until the team could find someone better.

"I've never considered myself a quitter," Riggleman said Friday on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "I think if I had stayed on and it would have been festering with me, and I would have been able to manage the nine innings, the distraction before and after the game with my attitude about it and not being able to have the same energy and upbeat attitude it takes to run a ballclub, before and after the game, that would have been a distraction to the ballclub.

"It was already becoming a distraction, as I was getting irritated about it."

Nick Friedell writes for ESPNChicago.com. Information from ESPN.com analyst Jim Bowden and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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