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Nats turn to veteran Johnson

Davey Johnson is poised to take over as manager of the Washington Nationals, replacing Jim Riggleman, who abruptly resigned Thursday.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Saturday that Johnson has agreed to a deal, but there are a few technical items to figure out before the team can make an official announcement today.

"It's language and dotting the I's and crossing the T's kind of stuff," Rizzo said, without elaborating.

"There is no signed document yet," he added. "So we want to make sure we have all our ducks in a row and everything is in place before we make any kind of announcement."

Johnson, who has not managed in the majors since 2000, will join the team in Chicago today, fly with the Nationals to Los Angeles and take over Monday when they begin an interleague series against the Angels.

Interim manager John McLaren will run the team for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox and will be reassigned within the organization, Rizzo said.

McLaren will assist Rizzo in scouting and other duties.

"Kind of a mutual decision," Rizzo said. "I think he had allegiances to Jim Riggleman and had some thoughts about really wanting to get out of uniform and into trying something different."

Johnson, who has been a senior advisor with the Nationals since 2009, is expected to manage the team for the remainder of 2011 and then be part of a search committee to select a manager for 2012. He could be a candidate for the position.

"We just want to see how the season progresses and want to evaluate after that," Rizzo said. "Davey will be part of that evaluating process."

A message was left on Johnson's cell phone Saturday.

McLaren was Riggleman's bench coach. Rizzo said the bench coach spot will likely be filled internally in the short term.

After the Nationals lost to the White Sox, 3-0, Saturday, dropping his record to 1-1 since replacing Riggleman, McLaren wouldn't talk about his future, other than to say he would manage Sunday. He said he would meet with Johnson on Sunday and talk over things.

"People forget that when a manager leaves, it's tough on the coaches, too," Jerry Hairston, Jr. said. "They plan on being here all year. For Mac to be leaving is tough for a lot of us. He's really a hard worker and a lot of guys love him here."

The 68-year-old Johnson managed the Mets, Dodgers, Reds and Orioles over 14 seasons and compiled a 1148-888 record. His 1986 Mets team won the World Series and Johnson's clubs finished first or second 11 times during his 14 previous seasons managing. He hasn't managed since 2000 when he was with the Dodgers.

"He was the manager of the Orioles when I got drafted by them," Hairston said.

"A lot of players loved playing for him. Very knowledgeable guy and won a World Series. Bottom line is he knows how to win. He definitely has credibility and he's coming into a good situation. He knows us, too, being a special assistant. He knows this team."

In Saturday's game, Jake Peavy threw four dominant innings in his first career relief appearance for the White Sox. Peavy made 55 pitches in his first appearance out of the bullpen after 238 career starts.

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