Should Washington Nationals' Former Manager Davey Johnson Skip Spring Training In 2014?

By James Williams
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals skipper Davey Johnson has managed his last game. He will clean out his office today at Nationals Park and then head for a much-needed vacation. He is willing to offer any help that Washington might want or need from him in finding his replacement but for now, he does not plan on visiting the team in Spring Training in 2014 as he hopes to be fishing at that time in Bora Bora.

Johnson will now return to his job as special adviser to the Nationals’ front office where he will continue to watch over the young players in the system and report to GM Mike Rizzo. But this year, he is thinking of skipping Spring Training because he feels he might be a distraction to the Nationals’ new manager.

He is of course right on this point — the last thing a new manager needs when he is really getting to know his players is to have the guy he replaced there looking over his shoulder. However, while Johnson said he might take a pass on overseeing the young players this spring, Rizzo has a different view.

He told the press yesterday that “Davey’s going to continue to be a valuable consultant for us, and we’ll see him throughout spring training … He is in no way going to be a distraction at camp.”

Really, Mike?

Perhaps he has never met the Washington press corps. Come on Mike, this is Spring Training in Florida with few storylines and nothing really interesting to report. As a matter of fact, the biggest news is going to be centered around the new Nationals manager. So you really think that if Davey is around that no one will ask for his thoughts on his replacement?

Look, here is how I think it will go down:

The Nationals will be in camp and their new manager will have at least three weeks of time to get to know his players. Johnson will come to camp, tell everyone willing to listen how the new guy is a great hire, and then he will do his job for a few days near the end of camp.

That way, the new manager has time to bond with his players and the Nationals get what they need from their old manager, which is his masterful abilities as a teacher of the game. It is a win-win for both Johnson and Rizzo, plus there is no drama and life goes on.   

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.

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