The Nationals released veteran reliever Ron Villone Monday. It was tough for GM Mike Rizzo to let one of his favorite players go, but it was necessary for the long term benefit of the ballclub.
Ron was a great teammate and he was a good leader on the ballclub.
What impressed me the most was how he would return to the dugout after coming out of a game and cheer on his teammates. He was very vocal.
He also told me that staying in the dugout allowed him to continue learning about the opposing team. Imagine wanting to continue learning even at the ripe age of 40?
Shortly after Ron was let go by the team, I ran into him on the elevator. He was headed up to talk more with GM Mike Rizzo. I thanked him for his help over the years and I wished him well. He was in good spirits and admitted the team's philosophy was changing and he accepted that.
He also told me he started the season, and he would finish it somewhere. Beyond that, he wasn't sure about his future. But one encouraging note: During his exit meeting with Mike Rizzo, the Nats GM told him, "when your playing days are over, give me a call."
Ron Villone has a sincere passion for the game and he belongs in baseball for an even longer amount of time.