Lannan: Johnson is “best out there to lead us”

Nationals left-hander John Lannan, coming off his first 10-win season, was very pleased to hear that Davey Johnson will return as manager for 2012.

Lannan said he was impressed with the way Johnson kept the Nationals going after Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned in late June.

“It is great (to see Davey back),” Lannan said. “Davey inherited a tough situation. He said he was never a man to quit. He stuck with us. The way we played at the end of the season (winning 15 of our last 20 games), shows how good we are. The players reacted well to his thoughts on how to play baseball.”

Johnson talked Monday afternoon about the high expectations he has for the Nationals next season and beyond: talk of division titles, pennants and World Series. Lannan said Johnson is on the right track and knows this team.

“The fact that we won with the all those young guys contributing at the end of the year tells me we are ready to make that next step.” Lannan said. “To see (general manager) Mike Rizzo and the Lerners work to get Davey to come back shows a lot. He is the best guy out there to lead us in the right direction.”

From a pitching perspective, Lannan said one reason for the team’s resurgence was the confidence Johnson had in the starters.

“(Johnson) gave us every opportunity to win,” Lannan said. “He let our talents show on the field. I liked the way he allowed the starters to go out a little deeper in games. Davey had confidence in guys like Ross Detwiler to start and stay in games and look how he responded. He also was an offensive-minded manager and handled juggling the lineup well.”

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