Johnson to manage Nats through this season

Johnson to manage Nats through this season

CHICAGO -- The Nationals made it official on Sunday afternoon, naming Davey Johnson as the team's manager.

This will be Johnson's fifth managerial stint. He skippered the Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers and went a combined 1,148-888 with one World Series title with the Mets in 1986. The last time he managed in the big leagues was in 2000, with the Dodgers.

"Davey, I feel, is the perfect fit for this job at this particular time," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He is a guy who has a track record that is beyond reproach. He knows the system. He knows the staff, he knows the Major League club and he is a terrific baseball guy and a proven winning manager."

Johnson will direct the Nationals on the field for the remainder of the 2011 season. He also agreed to a three-year consulting contract that will have him remain with the club after this season and allow him to participate in the hiring of his successor. The consulting contract starts with this season. He'll make his Nats debut on Monday against the Angels.

There is a possibility that he could be back with the club in 2012, but the Nationals have to go through an interviewing process which includes talking to minority candidates. If Johnson is the manager for 2012, the team will pick up an option that is part of his current contract.

"We followed the guidelines -- the fact that he is managing through the 2011 season and then we are going to go through a managerial search after the 2011 season allows us to do so and fulfill the Commissioner's Office requirements," Rizzo said.

Johnson's hiring came three days after Jim Riggleman resigned. Riggleman left the team after Rizzo declined to talk about picking up Riggleman's option for 2012. Johnson was the first person Rizzo thought of hiring as the new field boss.

"You automatically go into Plan B mode and try to think outside the box and make the decision rationally, clearly," Rizzo said. "We are fortunate to have such a clear-cut, easy alternative within arm's reach."

Johnson, 68, was a senior advisor to Rizzo before assuming managerial duties, and he takes over a team that has improved dramatically from last year. Entering Sunday's action, the Nationals were 39-38 and only 4 1/2 games behind the Braves for the National League Wild Card.

Johnson first dealt with the Nationals in 2006 as a consultant. He was the one who told then-general manager Jim Bowden to select catcher Jesus Flores in the Rule 5 Draft in December of that year. He didn't return to the club until November of 2009.

Johnson played 13 seasons in the Major Leagues for the Orioles, Braves, Phillies and Cubs, hitting 136 home runs in 1,435 games. His best season was 1973 with Atlanta, when he tied Rogers Hornsby's record with 42 home runs as a second baseman, hitting a 43rd as a pinch-hitter.

Johnson has managed in international play for the Netherlands and the United States. He was at the helm for Team USA during the 2008 Olympic Games, when his roster included injured Nats ace Stephen Strasburg.

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.