11/18/09 7:55 PM EST
Nats name Johnson senior advisor to GM
Veteran most recently managed in summer league in Florida
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
This is Johnson's second tenure with the Nationals. In 2006, he was an advisor for former general manager Jim Bowden. That year, in fact, it was Johnson who told the Nationals to select catcher Jesus Flores in the 2006 Rule 5 Draft. Washington listened to Johnson, and Flores is now the starting catcher for the team.
"Davey makes me a smarter general manager," Rizzo said. "He is a deep thinker. He has done every aspect you can do in the game. Just to be around him, it makes me all that much better."
Johnson will attend Spring Training as a coach, and he will most likely be a scout and roving instructor during the season.
"I think it's a big challenge," Johnson said. "I would like to see the Nationals rise to the top. It's a tough division. I know a lot of their young talent, but I think it's a great opportunity, and anything I can do to help Mike and the Nats, I'm all for it."
Johnson joins the Nationals after managing Team USA to a semifinals berth in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Johnson has managed or coached five Team USA professional squads since 2005, including the 2008 Olympic team that claimed the bronze medal in Beijing.
One of those players he coached in the Olympics was Stephen Strasburg, who became the Nationals' first-round pick in this year's First-Year Player Draft. Strasburg went 1-1 with a 1.67 ERA for Team USA.
Johnson believes Strasburg is "a little more advanced" than former Major League pitcher Dwight Gooden, who entered the league as a highly touted prospect in 1984 at 19 years old. Johnson managed Gooden for six-plus seasons when both were with the Mets.
"Everything about this kid is outstanding. I love him," Johnson said about Strasburg. "He has the poise. He has everything for a No. 1 that you want to ask for. It was a great selection for the Nats."
Johnson spent this past summer managing amateur players with the DeLand Suns of the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
Johnson managed four big league teams -- the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers -- for 14 seasons, compiling a 1,148-888 (.564) record. In those 14 big league seasons, Johnson's clubs finished first or second 11 times, including five division titles, one pennant and one World Series championship earned with the Mets in 1986.
In 1997, Johnson was named American League Manager of the Year after guiding the Orioles to a 98-64 (.605) record. He was recently named one of 10 managers to be placed on the new Veterans Committee ballot for potential induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
As a player, Johnson hit .261 with 136 home runs and 609 RBIs in 13 big league seasons during a career that included a stint in Japan. Johnson was a four-time All-Star, won three Gold Gloves, played in five postseasons and earned a pair of World Series rings with the Orioles in 1966 and '70. He is also the only player to have hit behind Hank Aaron and Japan's all-time home run king, Sadaharu Oh.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.