Just the other day I called Jim Riggleman down in Florida to get an update on his situation as returning to Washington as the permanent, not interim, skipper of the Washington Nationals.
As always Jim was upbeat about the possibility and expressed his desire to return with an opportunity to wipe the clean slate and get a fresh start with a ballclub packed with potential.
Well, Jim's wishes have come true. He will return as manager of the Nats after winning 33 games and losing 43 after taking over for Manny Acta in July.
Anyone who has watched Ray and I on Nats Xtra knows how much we like Jim, what he stands for and the direction he takes his ballclub; and from the get-go we felt he should be given a chance to see what he can do out of the shute.
It wasn't that long ago that Jim managed the Chicago Cubs to a second place finish with 90 victories.
It also helps to have a clubhouse that backs the Manager. The Nationals had nothing but praise for Riggleman who did a solid job the second half of the season, despite injuries to key players.
When spring training begins in Viera, Florida, Jim will have a healthy Nyjer Morgan patrolling centerfield, a Gold Glove third baseman in Ryan Zimmerman, some terrific young arms led by John Lannan, and a front office solidly behind him.
Another sidebar to this story is that Jim hails from Rockville, Maryland and graduated from Frostburg State where he is a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.
During the course of our conversation, Jim asked about my 11-year-old grandson, Jack Rolle, and how Jack was doing with his treatments for cancer. I was happy to inform him Jack came back home from Boston last Thursday after seven weeks there, and his treatments of Chemo and Radiation were successful. He has returned to Mater Dei school where his fifth grade class literally welcomed him back with open arms.
Thanks for the hundreds of cards and letters you Nats fans sent Jack during his time away from home. I know how much Jack loves baseball, and I can't wait to take him to a Nats game and to shake the hand of the manager of the Washington Nationals, Jim Riggleman.
Congratulations again Jim...We wish you all the best.