Johnson makes special visit to Nationals

Former manager still closely follows team in retirement

Johnson makes special visit to Nationals

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Former Nationals manager Davey Johnson watched almost every Nationals game on television in 2014, his first year away from baseball since he debuted with the Orioles as a player in 1965. If Washington had an off-day, he might watch another game, but he kept coming back to the Nationals.

"I was addicted to it," Johnson said, estimating he missed only one or two games all season.

For the first time since he retired as a manager at the end of the 2013 season, Johnson watched the Nationals in person on Tuesday, taking in their Grapefruit League matchup against the Tigers. Before the game, he congratulated Washington manager Matt Williams on a job well done last season and caught up with former players while the team took batting practice, including Bryce Harper.

Johnson said he was amazed when the Nationals signed Max Scherzer during the offseason, and he compared it to when he entered the 1990 season as the manager of the Mets. New York had traded for Frank Viola, who like Scherzer was a former American League Cy Young Award winner, at the Trade Deadline the previous year. Like this year's Nationals team, it gave them six proven starters -- including David Cone, Sid Fernandez, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda and Dwight Gooden. But, as Johnson quickly pointed out, you can never have too much pitching.

For that reason, the Nationals enter 2015 with lofty expectations as one of, if not the, favorite to win the World Series. Johnson is on board.

"I don't see any weaknesses," he said.

Yes, he pointed out the lineup can be right-handed heavy, especially with center fielder Denard Span sidelined, but he also noted the Nationals have the organizational depth throughout the Minor Leagues that makes a championship club.

Of course, Johnson is no stranger to expectations, proclaiming his final season as the Nationals manager "World Series or bust."

"It was bust," Johnson said. "But we had an awfully good team. We didn't get the right breaks at the right time. That's baseball. I always believed you have to have goals and goals that you're capable of reaching.

"If you don't think you're capable of reaching those goals, you got no chance. I like it when people think you're pretty good -- that keeps you on your toes, concentration level is always going to be a little higher. Nothing wrong with having people thinking you're going to be pretty good."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.