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Rizzo, Johnson talk extension

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Rizzo, Johnson talk extension

PHILADELPHIA -- The issue of Davey Johnson's future status has been raised in recent days because the Nationals manager hasn't officially committed to returning in that capacity for 2013.

Make no mistake, though, there's only one person who will decide whether Johnson returns as manager next season: Johnson.

The veteran skipper is under contract to work for the Nationals through 2013 per the deal he signed last summer upon taking over for Jim Riggleman upon the latter's surprise resignation. That contract stipulates Johnson has a job as a consultant to general manager Mike Rizzo, with the option of returning to the dugout as manager.

Technically speaking, either side could decide not to select that option. But Rizzo has made it clear he wants Johnson to be his manager for as long as Johnson wants to do the job.

Rizzo affectionately calls Johnson "part of the furniture" with the Nationals, too big and vital a piece to the organization to be cast aside anytime soon.

Rizzo has always wanted Johnson to manage through at least 2013. Upon hiring him last summer, he actually tried to lock him up to a three-year deal on the spot, but Major League Baseball wouldn't allow a long-term deal without the club conducting a full managerial search that included minority candidates.

Rizzo conducted that search after the season but still wound up sticking with the man he wanted all along: Johnson.

At the time, both sides said they would address the question of 2013 after the 2012 season was complete. But the unspoken truth was this: As long as Johnson wanted to return for another season, he would return.

And to date, Johnson has given no indication he doesn't want to return.

The 69-year-old has been reinvigorated by this job, falling in love with a team and an organization that is set up to win not only this year but for years to come. He talks repeatedly about his commitment to developing young players and helping them realize their potential.

And he sees a Nationals club that -- while it has a chance to win it all this season -- should be an even stronger contender next season, with Stephen Strasburg unleashed to pitch straight through October, with Bryce Harper maturing and growing into a more experienced player and with still more prospects coming up the pipeline.

Why wouldn't Johnson want to return to that? His health is good. His team's prospects are good. He's having the time of his life.

The final details may not be worked out yet for Johnson's return as manager in 2013. But if you asked both Johnson and Rizzo to reveal how they really feel about the situation, both would undoubtedly say they committed to each other for another season a long time ago.

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Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

Nats prospect update: Three minor-leaguers sent to Kansas City for Kelvin Herrera

The biggest story in Nationals prospects this week is the three Washington lost to the Royals in return for closer Kelvin Herrera. Here’s a look at what the Nationals gave up to add more depth to the bullpen.

Kelvin Gutierrez, AA 3B

The infielder, formerly on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, has posted a .285/.344/.388 line through his six-season minor league tenure. One of his greatest strengths is his speed, with 55 career stolen bases and 14 extra-base hits this season. His other notable tool is his powerful arm strength, which may help explain his transition from shortstop to the hot corner.

Blake Perkins, High A OF

The Nationals chose outfielder Blake Perkins in the second round of the 2015 draft. He has quite a bit of room to improve at the plate, batting .234/.344/.290 this season in Hagerstown. However, what he lacks offensively, he makes up for in the outfield. According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, Perkins has “plus speed, mature instincts, excellent routes and an above-average arm.”

Yohanse Morel, RHP

The biggest wild card of the group, Morel is a 17-year-old outfielder-turned-pitcher from the Dominican Republic. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he certainly has huge potential for growth. He has not yet pitched in the U.S. since making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in early June.

So, what did the Nationals gain?

Right-handed closer Kelvin Herrera is a two-time All-Star who is currently in the midst of a stellar season. In his Nats debut, he needed just six pitches to shut down the Orioles in the eight. The team is reportedly (and understandably) thrilled to have Herrera joining the roster. Adam Eaton said, "I'm so happy he's here and he's on my team and I don't have to face him anytime in the near future."

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Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

Orioles weather long rain delay in 3-0 win over Nationals

WASHINGTON -- The rain was heavy and relentless. As the puddles grew deeper on the tarp at Nationals Park, the Baltimore Orioles were left to wonder if their bid for a rare road victory would be thwarted by, of all things, the weather.

During a season in which very little has worked in their favor, the Orioles withstood a long rain delay to beat the Washington Nationals 3-0 Wednesday night.

Baltimore led 2-0 after four innings when play was stopped. After a wait of 2 hours, 43 minutes, the game resumed with a few hundred fans from the announced crowd of 32,153 sprinkled around the lower seating bowl.

Mark Trumbo homered for Baltimore, and Andrew Cashner and four relievers combined on a five-hitter in a game that ended long after midnight.

"It was nice," Trumbo said. "I'm glad that we actually kept the game going. Had we not been able to, it might have been a wash. But it ended up being pretty big for us."

Baltimore ended a six-game losing streak to Washington that began last May, won for only the fourth time in 20 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28.

This one was worth the wait.

"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so, great job by our guys tonight."

The Nationals managed only two hits following the delay, both in the ninth inning.

"It happens. You can't do anything about the rain," manager Dave Martinez said. "You've got to come out and get yourself ready to play. I'm not going to make any excuses."

The rain delay cut short a solid pitching performance by Cashner, who allowed three hits and no walks over four innings in his return from an 11-day stay on the disabled list with back spasms.

Miguel Castro (2-2) followed with two hitless innings, Darren O'Day pitched a perfect seventh and Zach Britton got four outs.

Brad Brach allowed the Nationals to load the bases with two outs in the ninth before striking out Mark Reynolds .

Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the second inning off Gio Gonzalez (6-4), and for a while it appeared the drive would be washed out by the rain.

"One pitch. That was the whole game," Gonzalez lamented. "That was it."

Indeed, it all ended well for the Orioles, who added a run in the sixth when Adam Jones doubled off Shawn Kelley and scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia .

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