Washington Nationals: Jayson Werth and Davey Johnson Take Shots at Jim Riggleman
Frustrations seem to be mounting in Washington.
But one day after Davey Johnson's alleged tirade against general manager Mike Rizzo, veteran outfielder Jayson Werth and Johnson himself decided to take shots at former Nationals manager, Jim Riggleman.
Riggleman stepped down as manager of the Nationals after 75 games last season, even though the team had a respectable 38-37 record. The reason for his departure was over a contractual dispute with Rizzo.
John McLaren was the interim manager for just three games. Johnson was named to the position after McLaren, and he lead the team to an 80-81 record. It would have been the first winning record for the franchise since the team moved from Montreal prior to the 2005 season.
Johnson, who has clearly taken the team to new heights this season, has the complete support of Werth. Werth had this to say about the differences between Riggleman and his current manager:
"Between last year and this year, it's night and day. Just the whole atmosphere in the clubhouse. You have an iconic manager that really knows how to handle this team. If we still had a guy like Riggleman as the manager, I don't think the team is where it's at."
He elaborated even further:
"You have a guy [in Johnson] that is confident in himself and in his players. That alone can go a long way. ... Being a big league player for so long, being a big league manager for so long, Davey has a real good feel [for the game]."
Riggleman's offensive decisions were always questioned, but opinions were mixed on his decision to leave the team. This season, however, the Nationals offensive production has increased greatly.
Much of that can be pinned to breakout seasons from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, but the philosophy of Johnson can not go overlooked.
Regarding Riggleman's offensive strategy, Johnson took a subtle swing (pun intended):
"To a man, we got a little too much concerned about hitting the ball the other way," Johnson said. "I think the regime before liked everybody to go the other way. We really couldn't handle fastballs (inside). We didn't hit the ball where it was pitched. We have the talent to hit the ball where it was pitched, but we were a little defensive. ... We had the book on us -- 'Pound them in with hard stuff' -- and we weren't able to do much."
It's great to know that the players are supporting Johnson, but taking swings at Riggleman seems a little uncalled for. There were no actions to spark such comments, but there will almost surely be repercussions on the part of Riggleman.
We'll just wait and see how this situation plays out.
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