Johnson on relationship with Rizzo and Harper's anniversary

One of the many reasons the Nationals are successful on the field and can maintain that tempo throughout a season is the relationship between their manager and general manager.

Manager Davey Johnson said he's on the same page with general manager Mike Rizzo when deciding what happens on the field.

"He is the best GM I have ever had in a lot of respects," Johnson said. "I like that he is smart and that he played second base. He was a scout. He surrounds himself with intelligent people. Everything that he has done has a lot of reasoning behind it."

Johnson said the Nationals are a well-oiled machine because the process of putting together the ballclub came from the ownership group, which selected the right baseball people to run the franchise.

"I think from ownership, GM and all that, to really be a successful organization, it has to start at the top," Johnson said. "The Lerners have been outstanding owners. They hired a great man in Mike Rizzo. He is a great evaluator of talent. He understands all the nuances of a baseball season. He understands insurance at positions and pitching. He understands all the things that you really need to be aware of. He does all that within a budget which is outstanding."

Many teams have been derailed over the years because the manager and general manager don't communicate well, don't share ideas, don't argue and then learn from tough situations. It seems like Johnson and Rizzo have that respect and trust that helps them get the team to progress. 109-75 in 183 games in not too shabby a marriage so far.

* Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Bryce Harper's first major league game. On April 28, 2012, Harper debuted against the Dodgers, going 1-for-3 with a double and a RBI sac fly. He ended up the season as the National League Rookie of the Year.

Johnson said he has seen a lot in one full year of why Harper is so good at what he does, besides his natural baseball ability.

"His approach and what he does and the way he does it," Johnson said. "His work habits have been great. He takes BP like you want to write a textbook on it. He hits the ball where it is pitched, he uses the whole field. He stays within himself. Seeing work habits leading up to the game. Everybody sees what he does in the game. His preparation is awful good."

Harper is hitting .364 with five doubles, eight homers and 16 RBIs in 21 games. Since that first game last season, Harper has totaled 30 homers and 75 RBIs in 160 games.

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