Davey Johnson's back.
In what came as no surprise, the Nationals announced this morning that they were picking up the option on Johnson's contract to manage the club again in 2012. Johnson later spoke with the media via conference call and restated his enthusiasm for the job, explaining why he felt it was a good fit.
"They (players) respected me," he said. "I guess they might have viewed me as a father figure or something, but it seemed to work, especially the last two or three weeks of the season."
Johnson's goal for 2012 is simple: He wants to win the National League pennant.
"We definitely can contend," he said. "We need to work on a few things, like the offense, cutting down on strikeouts, guys trying to do more than they can, but we can win this year."
Johnson said there would be a new bench coach, as Pat Corrales would return to organizational duties. Johnson called Corrales "invaluable," though he said just who that would be is yet to be determined by he and general manager Mike Rizzo. The rest of the coaching will return intact.
Johnson also was asked about how he'd handle Stephen Strasburg his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. "I'll leave it to the medical experts," he said, "but I don't think we'll need to handle him any differently than we handled (Jordan Zimmermann)."
I asked Johnson about this morning's announced retirement of Tony LaRussa.
"It's about time," he laughed. "Seriously, he's been at it what, 33 years? I was a little burned out after 13 years, and I took time off," he said. "But what a way to go out," alluding to the Cardinals' World Series win.
Johnson wouldn't address what might happen long-term with the Nationals, just that decisions like that would come much later and would also involve his wife's input. He's anxious to start spring training, and Rizzo noted that Johnson's energy level was high, and that bringing him back for 2012 was everyone's first choice.