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Williams wants Davey at spring training

Dec 11, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT

Associated Press AP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Though he has remained out of sight since managing the final game of the season in Arizona, Davey Johnson remains a member of the Nationals’ organization. The 70-year-old former skipper officially is listed as a consultant in the club’s baseball operations department, and general manager Mike Rizzo has repeatedly said Johnson will continue to be a valuable resource to the organization.

Matt Williams spoke to Johnson after getting hired last month, and the Nationals’ new manager immediately extended a hand to his predecessor and requested he report to Viera in February with everyone else.

“I asked him to come to spring training,” Williams said. “He’s not far from the spring training complex. He is extremely respectful of me and the staff and doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Hopefully he will call and let us know he’s coming, and we’ll make a big to‑do. We’ll have a big cake.”

Johnson’s reluctance to make a public appearance at spring training is nothing new. Prior to his final game as manager, he shot down the idea of a trip to Viera when pitchers and catchers report.

“Whoever is the manager, I think probably me being in uniform in spring training is not a good idea, just out of respect for who’s there,” Johnson said Sept. 29, one month before Williams was hired. “Whoever is in this uniform next year, I want them to be putting it on without them thinking I want it back. Because I don’t.”

Johnson also hasn’t made an appearance this week at the Winter Meetings, despite the fact he lives in suburban Orlando and the fact the Nationals have a contingent of 50 front-office employees at the Dolphin Resort.

“I don’t know how much he wants to be at spring training, because he mentioned earlier on that he doesn’t want to take the spotlight off the new manager,” Rizzo said Tuesday. “But Davey is an important part of the decision-making process, and the counseling process moreso. His input is important. He’s got a big, global view of not only baseball but the whole Nationals team. I’m going to lean on him as much as he lets me lean on him.”

Perhaps Williams and Co. can convince Johnson to change his mind in the next two months.

“I asked him to come into the office and sit down and talk baseball,” Williams said. “I’d love to pick his brain. Hopefully he accepts that and we can do that.”

 

  1. Doc - Dec 11, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    it is not only magnanimous on Matt’s part but it makes some good baseball sense.

    Davey continues to know what the Nats didn’t do last year, and what they need to do this year.

    Besides that, Davey is still an integral part of the organization.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Agreed. Having Davey’s input especially to the point of what would you change if you had the 2014 team is what I’d want to know. Matty doesn’t have to agree but I’d want Daveys input.

  2. slidell2 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    Well, Davey doesn’t have to be in uniform.

  3. edshelton2013 - Dec 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Davey doesn’t want his presence to detract from the new manager, and Matt wants to show he’s not intimidated by having Davey around. Plus, Matt gets “free” advice from the ultimate Nats insider which can only help him make better decisions going forward.

  4. veejh - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    meh….keep Davey away. Time for the players to a see and feel a 100% change in managerial style.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      +1

    • Sonny G 10 - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      -1

    • adcwonk - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      -1

      vj — Davey wasn’t invited for advice on how to manage! He was invited to share knowledge of the players. This has nothing to do with change/no-change in managerial style.

  5. adcwonk - Dec 11, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    Davey had an institutional knowledge of the players and how they perform over the long haul of a season that no one else has. Being able to pass that directly onto Williams as they walk around spring training observing players is an awesome idea. Williams can take those observations, and use them, or throw them out. But _some_ of them have got to be useful.

    Win-win is the way I see this.

  6. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Billy Burns to Oakland for Jerry Blevins. Not a fan.

    • David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      Michael Kotchish ‏@kotchishm 4m
      Blevins becomes a FA in 2016. He owns a 3.30 ERA over the last 7 seasons with the A’s. He has held LH to a .224 BA and .278 OBP.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        but there were FA options. is he gonna be lefty specialist?

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Johnson’s comments on “what the Nats didn’t do last year” or “what you would you change if you had the 2014 team” are a trap for a conflict of interest. What the Nats didn’t do, or what they should change, has a lot to do with Johnson. Much as he has established his credentials the rest of his career, last year was a pretty lousy valedictory. I’d hope he wouldn’t answer those questions and, if he did, I’d look at his answers under a pretty powerful microscope.

    I also think having him around for more a wad of snuff and a Pepsi confuses the players. The players know he’s a consultant — but on what? On my footwork on the double play? If I screw up in infield practice will he say a kind word to Matt Williams on my behalf? My own view of this “consulting” arrangement is jaundiced. Whatever Rizzo (or Williams) says, I convinced that its core lies in making certain Johnson doesn’t “consult” with any other team. In the Acta/Riggleman era Johnson may well have been a consultant on substantive stuff. How much good did that do Acta or Riggleman. If Williams had a lick of sense he’d’ve told Rizzo while negotiating his agreement, “It’s OK if he ‘consults’ with me but not OK if he ‘consults’ with you.” And I don’t think Williams needs any outside “consultant.” Much of what Johnson knows is self-evident from the detritus of last season. And if Williams really has any questions he can ask Randy Knorr.

  8. David Proctor - Dec 11, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Faraz, he’s respectable against righties too. He actually had reverse splits in 2013, but for his career, he’s killed lefties and done decent against righties.

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