WASHINGTON – Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned from one of the hottest teams in baseball Thursday, saying he felt the franchise wasn’t committed to him over the long term.
Bench coach John McLaren will manage the Nationals on a short-term basis, according to a club official who informed The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Riggleman quit because the Nationals weren’t prepared to pick up the option on his contract for next year, further reinforcing his feeling that he was merely a placeholder manager until the team could find someone better.
“It’s been brewing for a while,” Riggleman said after his team completed a sweep of the Seattle Mariners. “I know I’m not Casey Stengel, but I do feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s not a situation where I felt like I should continue on such a short leash.”
Riggleman’s decision caught the Nats by surprise.
“Jim told me pregame today that if we wouldn’t pick up his option, then he wouldn’t get on the team bus today,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “I felt that the time wasn’t right for me to pick up the option, and certainly today’s conversation put to me in the way it was put to me, you certainly can’t make that decision in a knee-jerk reaction.”
Riggleman’s version of events was slightly different. He said he requested that he and Rizzo have “a conversation” about his contract when the team arrived in Chicago.
“I just felt if there’s not going to be some type of commitment, then there obviously never will be,” Riggleman said.