CHICAGO -- Nationals interim manager John McLaren was emotional on Sunday morning, a few hours before participating in his last big league game in uniform, which ended in a 2-1 victory.
McLaren, 59, will leave his on-field duties as bench coach and become a West Coast scout. He also would like to coach players in the organization's Dominican academy. It's not known if McLaren will work with the Nationals past 2011.
McLaren acknowledged he wanted to leave the organization after Jim Riggleman resigned as manager of the club, but he was talked out of it by Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo.
In fact, McLaren said he was thinking about leaving the organization as far back as mid-May when the team was in Florida. He told Riggleman that if he left the organization, he would soon follow.
"I told Jim, 'If you leave, I'm going to leave.' He texted me twice, he has called me three times. He has talked me out of it and I'm not going to do it," McLaren said. "I didn't want to look in the mirror every day and say, 'You told Riggs this and you didn't do it.' Jim was very supportive. He has tried to guide me in a different direction."
McLaren said he was hurt at first that he wasn't going to be allowed to finish the season as the manager, but after productive conversations with Rizzo, McLaren decided to stay in the organization. Davey Johnson will take over as manager of the Nationals starting on Monday. McLaren will go back to Phoenix, Ariz., and take care if some personal business before scouting for Washington.
"The more [Mike and I] talked, I told him, 'If you like me too, maybe I could help you guys a little bit.' I've been thinking maybe it's time to get out of coaching," McLaren said. "I've done scouting before and enjoyed it.
"I'm a very emotional man. I wear everything on my sleeve. I think everybody is good now. It has been fun. The Nationals have treated me very well and it's time to move on."
McLaren believes the Nationals are on the rise because players such as Bryce Harper are on their way to the big leagues. He also likes the way infielders Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have progressed on the field.
"I'm really proud of Desmond and Espinosa with the way they have progressed. It happened right before your eyes -- the hard work they put in," McLaren said. "Those guys are going to be here a long time. You have a third baseman [Ryan Zimmerman], who is one of the best players in the National League. Mike Morse looks like he is a late bloomer. ... There are some nice pieces here."
During the Nationals' team meeting before Sunday's game against the White Sox, Rizzo thanked McLaren for filling in as manager for three games. The players gave McLaren a round of applause that could be heard outside the locker room.
"John has been there every step of the way," reliever Tyler Clippard said. "He did a great job under Riggs. I don't think he necessarily wanted to leave. He did a great job for us. We all respect and love John a lot."With McLaren gone, the Nationals will have to name a bench coach. Johnson is expected to name a replacement sometime this week.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.