No deal between Nats, Johnson yet

In late September, The Washington Post reported that Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson had begun discussing Johnson’s return in 2013.

In mid-October, after the Nationals lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series, Johnson told the Post he wanted to remain manager, citing "unfinished business."

It is now early November. And Johnson is still not signed to manage the Nationals next season.

But Johnson, in a telephone interview on Monday, said that the two sides are talking, and that he is not bothered by the delay.

"I’m not mad at anyone. I love the Nationals. I love the Lerners," Johnson said, referring to the team’s owners.

"It’s just what it is. I’m perfectly comfortable waiting. I want to be back. It’s not like I don’t want to be back."

While the holdup has been on the Nationals’ end, it appears to be more a matter of timing than a dispute over terms with Johnson. Rizzo did not return a text message seeking comment.

Johnson, who turns 70 on Jan. 30, became the Nationals’ manager on June 26, 2011 after the unexpected resignation of Jim Riggleman. The team did not announce that he would return in ’12 until more than a month after its season ended.

The delay this time is not yet as long; the Nationals’ season ended Oct. 12, and 24 days have passed since.

"I want (Johnson) in that chair next year," Rizzo told the Post in late September. "I’ve asked him to be in the chair next year. I think he wants to be in the chair, and we’ve discussed it."

The Nationals finished with 98 wins and their first division title, then got upset by the Cardinals in the Division Series, losing the decisive Game 5 after taking a 7-5 lead into the ninth inning.

Johnson was second-guessed by the media for some of his decisions in that game. He also had a post-game shouting match with Rizzo in late August in which he could be heard saying, "You come down and manage the team."

Neither incident, however, qualified as especially out of the ordinary. Johnson and Rizzo both downplayed their confrontation, saying that it did not signal a rift between them.

Likewise, the departure Monday of Pat Corrales — who served Johnson as a bench coach with the Nationals, in between stints as a special adviser to Rizzo — appears unrelated to Johnson’s status.

Johnson and Corrales were close, but Corrales said he took a job as special assistant to the GM with the Los Angeles Dodgers because of his prior relationship with Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten.

The Nationals allowed Bo Porter, one of Johnson’s potential heir apparents, to interview with the Houston Astros for their managerial vacancy in mid-September. Porter got the job, but remained the Nats’ third base coach through the playoffs.

Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr probably would be next in line if the negotiations between Johnson and the team somehow collapsed.

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