WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman and outfielder Rick Ankiel said that it will be weird not seeing former Braves manager Bobby Cox in the opposing dugout.
Cox retired after the 2010 season. He guided the Braves to five pennants and one World Series title. Fredi Gonzalez is now the manager in Atlanta. Riggleman managed against Cox for a decade, while Ankiel played for Cox last season.
"It will be a little strange. However long it has been, you are used to seeing Bobby Cox with the Braves," Ankiel said. "I loved playing for him. For me, I grew up as a Braves fan. Back in Florida, we had TBS. ... When I got traded to the Braves at the Trade Deadline last year, for me it was like, 'Wow. This guy is going to retire.' This is a guy that I've watched my whole life. I got a chance to play for him. I loved it. It was an experience I'll never forget."
Riggleman and Cox faced each other in the National League Division Series in 2003, when the Braves swept the Cubs in three games.
"You associate Bobby with the Braves, but once the game started, it's your players against their players," Riggleman said. "You are not really thinking who the other manager is during the course of the game. It's the respect you have for them throughout the year, the offseason."
Nationals right-handers Joe Bisenius and Tim Wood and outfielder Jonathan Van Every asked to be released, and the club granted their requests. ... Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman owns the longest stretch of consecutive Opening Day starts for the Nationals with six. ... Among the current Nats, only Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Ivan Rodriguez were in Washington's Opening Day starting lineup in 2010.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.