WASHINGTON — Davey Johnson is ready to soak it all in during what is supposed to be his final season as manager of the Washington Nationals, saying he’ll throw batting practice or even take pregame grounders occasionally.
What he isn’t prepared to do is say for certain that he will retire after 2013.
Before Washington’s game against the Miami Marlins on Monday, the 70-year-old Johnson was asked whether it would be his final opening day in uniform.
“It’s my last one sitting right here, talking to you. But I don’t know what lies in store for me. I have no idea,” replied Johnson, the oldest skipper in the major leagues this season.
“My wife talks about traveling. And then she also wonders what I’m going to be doing for a job. She wants me to keep working. She wants to retire,” Johnson continued. “That’s another little battle going on. I want her to keep working. But we’ll see.”
He was voted the NL Manager of the Year last season, when Washington won a majors-leading 98 games and its first NL East division title since the franchise moved from Montreal in 2005.
The Nationals announced Nov. 10 that this would be Johnson’s last year as their manager and that he’ll move into a role as a consultant to the club in 2014.
Asked whether there were any circumstances that could result in his return to the dugout next year, Johnson said: “Probably not.”
“I think I’m the person for the challenge this year,” he said. “I think the development of this ballclub can culminate at the end of this year, and (then) probably turn it over to a younger, more energetic manager. That’s my thought.”
Johnson led the New York Mets to the 1986 World Series title and later managed the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles. He was honored as AL Manager of the Year in 1997, hours after he resigned from the Orioles in a feud with owner Peter Angelos.
Johnson returned to managing in 1999 with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years. After time away from a major league dugout, he was working as a senior adviser with the Nationals in June 2011 when Jim Riggleman suddenly resigned as manager midway through the season. Johnson took over then and was brought back in 2012.
“I enjoy the game of baseball. I love baseball and watching some talented guys compete and handle adversity, how they handle it, how they get better and how it all fits together,” Johnson said Monday. “I enjoy that every day. That’s exciting for me. That keeps my heart pumping.”
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