In a stunning end to the Washington Nationals’ best homestand this season, Jim Riggleman announced his resignation as manager following Thursday’s victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Riggleman’s agent, Burton Rocks, said his client had wanted to talk for some time with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo about a contract extension, but never was granted a meeting.
“What set (Riggleman) off was all he wanted was a personal meeting with Rizzo to talk about the contract,” Rocks said. “(Riggleman) wanted the meeting to just be the two of them, no agents and no lawyers. He wanted a serious meeting between two friends. Rizzo told him that wasn’t going to happen.”
Rocks said Riggleman told him at 12:35 p.m. Thursday of his plans to resign after the game if the meeting he had requested was not granted. The Nationals were scheduled to fly to Chicago after Thursday’s game for a weekend interleague series against the White Sox.
Rocks said there have been no formal contract extension talks with the club dating to spring training. In March, Rocks said he went to club to make sure they were happy with the job Riggleman was doing. At that time, Rocks was given assurances that the club was satisfied with Riggleman’s work.
In a statement issued by the team Thursday night, Rizzo said he felt the decision on Riggleman’s future was too important a move to be decided upon during the course of a nine-inning game.
“I talked to Jim before the season and have emphasized since that no decision would be made on his extension until after the end of the season,” Rizzo said. “I am surprised and disappointed, personally, and am even more disappointed for our players and fans. I was always taught that one of the cardinal rules of baseball was that no individual can put his interests before those of the team.”
As for the future for Riggleman, Rocks said his client will manage again at the major league level. Before taking over as the Nats interim manager after Manny Acta was fired in July 2009, Riggleman had managed the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Mariners. Riggleman’s career record in 12 seasons as a major league manager is 662-824, including a 140-172 mark with the Nationals.