Johnson returning as Nationals' manager next season

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally

After 2013, 69-year-old goes to consultant role

Nationals manager Davey Johnson will return as manager next season before moving into a consultant role in 2014, the team announced Saturday.

Johnson, 69, again will be the oldest manager in baseball. But general manager Mike Rizzo made it no secret in the days after Washington lost to St. Louis in a National League Division Series last month that he wanted Johnson to return.

The Nats finished 98-64 in 2012 and won their first National League East title since they moved to the District from Montreal in 2005. That was the best record in baseball this season, and Johnson is a finalist for the NL Manager of the Year Award, voted upon by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and presented Monday.

"I love managing this ballclub in this town, and for that I owe a debt of gratitude to the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo," Johnson said in a statement issued by the Nats. "As everyone knows, we have some unfinished business to tend to in '13. I have a feeling this upcoming season will be filled with many memorable moments."

Johnson took over June 26, 2011, three days after former manager Jim Riggleman resigned unexpectedly in the midst of a long winning streak. After last season Johnson signed a three-year contract to manage the team in 2012 and then serve as a special advisor to Rizzo in 2013 and 2014.

Johnson has a career record of 1,286-995 in 16 seasons. He has a .564 winning percentage, second among active managers behind only Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees, and ranks 19th all time in that category. He led the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title and was named American League manager of the year in 1997 with the Baltimore Orioles. Johnson has taken four different teams to the postseason.

It wasn't an easy season for Washington despite that gaudy record, which was the best in the majors. Johnson's club missed several key regulars to injuries, including slugger Michael Morse (lat muscle tear), who didn't play until June, and outfielder Jayson Werth (broken left wrist), who missed three months. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder) spent time on the disabled list, and shortstop Ian Desmond (oblique tear) missed 28 games in July and August.

Johnson did get lucky with the health of his starting pitchers. But he also had to manage a bullpen that missed closer Drew Storen (right elbow surgery) for three months and that added replacement parts when Henry Rodriguez and Brad Lidge proved ineffective. And, of course, there was the Stephen Strasburg controversy, which was a distraction all season after the Nats said they planned to shut down their ace in early September.

For NL manager of the year, Johnson is up against Cincinnati's Dusty Baker, whose team won the NL Central with a 97-65 record, and San Francisco's Bruce Bochy, whose team won the NL West at 94-68 and eventually the World Series. Johnson was named Sporting News manager of the year last month.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner