PHOENIX - Pitching coach Steve McCatty, like most of the Nationals’ coaches, has an interesting relationship with Davey Johnson.
Johnson will tend to yell a decent amount. He demands plenty from his coaches. He’ll complain about mistakes and ask why various moves weren’t made.
Then, he’ll share a laugh with whoever he was yelling at just seconds or minutes earlier, cracking that big smile that we’ve seen so many times over the last two and a half years.
Was today, Johnson’s last day as Nationals manager, any different?
“He started yelling at me,” McCatty quipped after today’s 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks in Game 162. “So no, he wasn’t any different at all.
“I’ll miss Davey a lot,” McCatty then added. “I’ll be able to laugh at him. I’m not sure how much I’m going to miss him. I’m not sure getting your ass chewed out every day about something, you find that like, ‘Boy, I really enjoyed it. I’m really going to miss that ass-chewing every day.’ The other things that go along with it are really funny when you sit back and look at him. Obviously, he’s a brilliant guy, a great manager. He’s done so well throughout his career.
“You learn a lot of things from him. Sometimes, he has a hard time getting his point across smoothly. A little more direct than you would like. We would all go back and laugh no matter what happened. We’d laugh at him the next day. He’s been great for me. He had me come back when I first got here. So I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”
Johnson said bye to some players, coaches and staffers after the game, ready to hop a team charter that won’t be nearly as filled as usual. Some who travel with the team will head straight home from here in Arizona. The goodbyes are a bit strange, given that these guys have spent nearly every day together over the last 7 1/2 months.
“A little bit,” Adam LaRoche said, when asked if it’s strange to be saying bye to Johnson. “Yeah. I think the good side of that is, he’s moving on. He gets to relax a little bit and do some things that he’s missed out on over the last 75 years or however long he’s been in this game. It was great having him. We’re going to miss him, no doubt. But I think he’ll be OK in his next venture, whether it’s golf or whatever it is.”
The Nats didn’t get a win for Johnson in his final game, but that wasn’t really necessary.
“I think he was satisfied after yesterday,” Ian Desmond said. “He really wanted that 300 wins over ... whatever. But Davey, any time anybody walks away from the game that they love, their profession, I think it’s always a little tough. He had some really nice things to say to me.
“Over the course of our relationship together, he’s always been very supportive of me and helped me in any way possible. I think it’s always going to be a nice relationship that we’re going to maintain hopefully throughout the rest of my career. Hopefully it’s not the last time I see him.”
How much of an impact did Johnson make on this team over the last two-plus years? Ask his players.
“You know, the managerial role as a whole is kind of an enigma,” Tyler Clippard said. “You don’t really know what specifically somebody’s doing or not doing from an outsider’s perspective, what he’s doing well to have his guys succeed under him. But I know, just from being around this team and this organization and playing under Davey, that he was uncanny in showing confidence in his guys. And it never wavered.”