Players eager to play for Riggleman in '11

Players eager to play for Riggleman in '11

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are expected to announce by the end of this week that Jim Riggleman will be retained as manager, according to a baseball source.

Last offseason, Riggleman signed a two-year deal, but only 2010 was guaranteed. The team could have bought him out after this season.

"He does a good job," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said Wednesday of Riggleman. "We have a young team. When they fail, we need a guy who will teach them with positive reinforcement, but at the same time get on them a little bit and make them learn from their mistakes. He does a good job of that."

After beating Houston, 4-3, on Wednesday night, Washington is 64-88 and has improved from last season, when it went 59-103. Many who work with Riggleman think the reason for the improvement is the accountability the skipper enforces in the Nationals' clubhouse.

"I'm glad he gets to be a part of it for [at least] one more year," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "It's good to know that next year he is going to be here. Coming into Spring Training next year, hopefully he has little bit of security. It's going to be good.

"We definitely made steps in the right direction. The record doesn't indicate it. He laid out the blueprint and I want to see us as a group execute what he is trying to preach to us."

Riggleman, who was unavailable for comment, replaced Manny Acta as manager of the Nationals after the All-Star break last season. The 2009 club went 33-42 under Riggleman and finished the year on a seven-game winning streak.

This is Riggleman's fourth managerial stop, after leading the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season as a skipper was in 1998, when he guided the Cubs to the playoffs after they won a National League Wild Card tiebreaker over the Giants. The team lost to the Braves in the NL Division Series, 3-0.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.