WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Davey Johnson anticipates that 2013 will be his last Opening Day as a big league manager and intends to savor every moment this season.
“I expect to throw some batting practice, maybe take a few grounders,” said the 70-year-old Washington Nationals skipper who broke into the majors with the 1965 Orioles and managed the Mets to the 1986 World Series championship. “Baseball keeps my heart pumping … I’m going to enjoy this year.”
Johnson, who joined the Nationals front office in 2006 and became manager when Jim Riggleman resigned in June 2011, says he’s not sure what 2014 and beyond might hold but might well remain with Washington as a consultant.
“I’ll probably turn it over to a younger, more energetic manager,” Johnson said. “My wife talks about traveling. But she wants me to keep working. She wants to retire. I want to keep working. We’ll see.”
A larger issue for the Nationals might be the contract status of general manager Mike Rizzo, who could look elsewhere after this season. Washington is favored – at minimum – to repeat as NL East champions. Last season, their first in the playoffs, the Nationals finished 94-68 and came within an inning of advancing to the NLCS.
Johnson says his team benefitted from the experience but is still learning.
“We’re still a very young ball club,” Johnson said. “We have quite a few guys on this club who still have a little more growing to do. There’s no way you can teach the experience. I learn as a manager. They learn as players. I know we learned from [last year].”