Davey Johnson not pursuing O's managerial job

Club's former player, manager would be willing to listen, however

June 26, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Former Orioles skipper Davey Johnson has not had any contact with the club's front office about the open managerial position and isn't actively pursuing it.

But that's not to say he wouldn't listen if the team came to him.

"I have not been contacted, but I will always have interest in Baltimore, and I'll always care about whatever happens to them in any way, shape or form," Johnson, a senior advisor to Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, told The Sun Saturday afternoon. "The best part of my life was spent here."

Johnson, who was at Camden Yards on Saturday as part of the 40th anniversary celebration of 1970 world championship team, played eight seasons with the Orioles from 1965-1972 and then managed their last two playoff teams in 1996 and 1997.

On the day he was named the 1997 American League Manager of the Year for leading the Orioles to the postseason with a first-place, wire-to-wire finish, he resigned after a dispute with team principal owner Peter Angelos. The Orioles lost to the Cleveland Indians in the AL Championship Series that year, and have not had a winning season since.

Asked during a panel discussion before Saturday's Orioles-Nationals game whether he ever thought about how things would have been different for the organization if he had stayed, he quietly said, "No, I don't think about it."

Later, however, Johnson told The Sun that he had discussions with then-executive vice president Mike Flanagan in 2007 about replacing Sam Perlozzo as manager before Andy MacPhail was hired and interim skipper Dave Trembley was retained.

"The last time I had any conversation with an [Orioles] official was in 2007," Johnson said. "I talked to Flanny a little bit about coming back and they went in a different direction. That was it."

Johnson, 67, said he hasn't spoken to Angelos, but doesn't think there is any lingering animosity between the two.

"I have no doubt we could work together again," Johnson said. "I understood where he was coming from. We didn't win. We got stopped on the door. …We went wire-to-wire, we beat the Yankees, we had a great club, but I didn't get to the World Series and that's just not acceptable to Peter."

Johnson, who has a 1,148-888 record (.564) in 14 seasons, hasn't managed in the majors since 2000 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But he skippered the 2009 U.S. World Baseball Classic team, the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and will manage his second consecutive season in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.

"I'd love to manage. I have been managing," he said. "It is no difference what level I am on."

He said he likes his low-pressure post with the Nationals, and, "I don't want to do anything to hurt that relationship because I have enjoyed that relationship."

As for his old team, Johnson said although he can't fully evaluate the 2010 Orioles, he doesn't think the talent is as barren as the record may suggest.

"This team going into spring training, a lot of people felt pretty good about," Johnson said. "Good young arms, good young talent. Now all of a sudden they are not going good, so it's bad talent. I don't agree with that."

So is it possible he'd return to the place he started his big-league baseball career?

"Anything is possible," he said. "But I am not promoting myself to get the job."

Montanez to DL

As expected, the Orioles recalled Brad Bergesen from Triple-A Norfolk to make Saturday's start and placed outfielder Lou Montanez on the 15-day disabled list with a slightly torn oblique muscle.

Montanez, who suffered the injury Wednesday during batting practice, started just 11 games after his recall on April 16 and only once since May 27. He hit .140 in 57 at-bats, including nine at-bats in June.

Despite the lack of playing time, interim manager Juan Samuel thinks Montanez is a legitimate major leaguer; he just didn't get much of a chance once Corey Patterson seized the left field job.

"He's a guy that has a lot of confidence; you need that. And he knows he is good because he tells you he is good," Samuel said. "I think Lou is a good outfielder. I think Lou can run. I think he is a good hitter. So there is no doubt in my mind Lou can play in the major leagues."

Around the horn

First baseman Ty Wigginton didn't start for the second consecutive game because of back tightness. Samuel said he expects the club's home run and RBI leader to return today. … Outfielder Felix Pie could join the Orioles for their road trip next week, but the team would like him to play outfield in the minors first. …. As part of the 1970 celebration, the three Hall of Fame players from that club threw out the ceremonial first pitch: Jim Palmer to Kevin Millwood, Brooks Robinson to Miguel Tejada and Frank Robinson to Nick Markakis. Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver took out the lineup card with Samuel.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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