Nationals wanted veteran in charge

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CHICAGO --- General manager Mike Rizzo had to move quickly. He needed a seasoned and successful manager to run the Washington Nationals, a promising team shocked by the abrupt resignation of Jim Riggleman.

Davey Johnson will manage Washington for the rest of the year. His first game is tonight against the Los Angeles Angels.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Davey Johnson will manage Washington for the rest of the year. His first game is tonight against the Los Angeles Angels.

He didn't have to look far.

Davey Johnson, who had been advising Rizzo since 2009, was the logical choice because he was already familiar with the team's operations, the players and Rizzo himself.

The 68-year-old Johnson, who led the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title and had managed four big league teams, is returning to the dugout. The official announcement came Sunday.

Johnson will run the Nationals for the first time today when they start an interleague series against the Los Angeles Angels. He will stay on as manager through the rest of the season.

"Davey's a perfect fit for this job at this particular time," Rizzo said. "He's a guy with a track record that's beyond reproach. He knows the system, he knows the staff, he knows the major league club and he's a terrific baseball guy and a proved winning manager."

Johnson agreed to a three-year consulting contract that runs through 2013 and will help select Washington's next manager. It could be him, of course.

"It's going to be a mutual organization decision," Rizzo said. "Davey's going to do what's best for the organization, and he and I will both have input in what's going on.

"This situation just emphasizes the type of team player he is. He's, in essence, dropping everything to get back in uniform to help us out."

Interim manager John McLaren ran the team for the third game Sunday and came away with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox to finish his short stint 2-1. Riggleman's former bench coach will be reassigned to scouting duties within the organization.

"The John McLaren era is over in Washington. Is three games an era?" McLaren said with a laugh.

Johnson was not available for comment Sunday, a team spokesman said. He was scheduled to join the team later for the flight to Los Angeles.

Johnson managed the Mets, Dodgers, Reds and Orioles over 14 seasons and compiled a 1,148-888 record.

Riggleman abruptly quit Thursday after the Nationals beat Seattle, unhappy that Rizzo declined to have a conversation about picking up his option for 2012.

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