Johnson hopeful he'll return to Nats

Johnson
Johnson
Posted: October 17, 2012

DAVEY JOHNSON said Tuesday he wants to return next season to manage the Washington Nationals.

The 69-year-old Johnson, who has returned to his home in Winter Park, Fla., reflected on the disappointment of the Nationals' crushing, Game 5 loss to St. Louis in the NL Division Series, and on his future with the team in an interview with the Washington Post.

"If we'd have won a World Series, I might have pulled a La Russa," Johnson said, referring to Tony La Russa, the Cardinals' manager who retired after winning the title in 2011. "I think I've accomplished what was needed to this point. Is there some unfinished business? Yeah, there's some unfinished business. But that'll be up to ownership. That ball is in their court."

On Friday night, the upstart Nationals, who won a major league high 98 games in the regular season and dethroned the Phillies atop the NL East, took an early 6-0 lead against St. Louis and were still ahead 7-5 lead going into the ninth inning. But the world champion Cardinals, after being down to their last strike, scored four runs against closer Drew Storen.

In answering questions about his Game 5 decisions, Johnson said, "Let me tell you something. Any manager in baseball, they will tell you, if you can get to your closer with a lead, you've done good. I don't [care] what anybody else thinks. If it's a one-run lead, a two-run lead, you did it.

"One thing, in all the years I've been managing, if I think about all the options I have in every minute of that game, I never second-guess myself. Anytime you get to your setup guy and your closer, you get a lead with your closer in there, you're good to go."

Johnson said the eight hitters his pitchers walked in Game 5 continued a trend down the stretch of the season.

"I don't know why, it seemed like the last 2 weeks of the season, we started walking more guys," Johnson said. "I don't know the reason why. I don't know if it's inexperience or what. Do I have any remorse about any of my decisions? No. I wouldn't."

Despite the bitter finish, Johnson did not want to let the Nationals' accomplishments go unnoticed.

"I was not happy with how it finished out," Johnson said. "I told the guys after the game, I said I'm proud of them, period. I talked to Storen: 'Don't beat yourself up too bad.' "

Johnson said he and general manger Mike Rizzo already had talked about him returning. The decision will ultimately come down to approval by ownership, he said. Johnson is under contract with the Nationals as an adviser for next year, but his contract would have to be reworked for him to come back as the manager.

Noteworthy * 

Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is planning to auction his 13 Gold Gloves and a pair of World Series rings he received from the St. Louis Cardinals in retirement.

SCP Auctions said that bidding for the online sale will start Nov. 14 and end Dec. 1. SCP said Smith decided on the auction, which also includes 11 All-Star Game rings, as part of estate and family planning.

In a separate sale, bidding began Tuesday at Goldin Auctions for Pete Rose's copy of the 1990 agreement in which he agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball following an investigation of his gambling while Cincinnati's manager.

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