Nats' Riggleman resigns over contract situation

June 23, 2011 - 5:29 PM
Nationals Riggleman Resigns Baseball

FILE - In this June 5, 2011 file photo, Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman looks on during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Riggelman resigned as manager on Thursday, June 23, 2011, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. (AP Photo/Paul Connors, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

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 in a clubhouse that went from festive to stunned after completing 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 lease."

His decision caught the franchise by surprise. General manager Mike Rizzo said he'll announce Friday who will manage the team this weekend during a road series against the Chicago White Sox.

"Jim told me pregame today that if we wouldn't pick up his option, then he wouldn't get on the team bus today," 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. It's too big of a decision."

The Nationals have won 11 of 12 and are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2005.

"We should be celebrating going to Chicago," Rizzo said. "I'm disappointed that this is a distraction, that this is not thinking of the team first, that it is thinking of personal goals, thinking of personal things firsts. That's probably what disappoints me the most."