Mike Rizzo wasn’t kidding about Davey Johnson winning a fishing tournament

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When talking to reporters yesterday about why Davey Johnson remains unsigned Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo noted how the manager was keeping himself busy: “I know he was in a fishing tournament. And he won the damn tournament.”

Sarah Kogod of the Washington Post did some digging and found that, sure enough, Johnson recently took part in the Redbone fishing tournament in Islamorada, Florida and “was named celebrity grand champion.”

Florida Sportsman Newswire has the details (and the accompanying photo):

Davey Johnson, manager of the Washington Nationals, released three redfish on artificial and one bonefish on bait to be named celebrity grand champion. A resident of Winter Park, Fla., Johnson fished with Islamorada’s Captain Paul Tejera.

Preceding the silver anniversary event, Johnson and Nicole Ellis, daughter of Redbone founder Gary Ellis, placed a memorial wreath in Florida Keys waters. Nicole Ellis, now 28, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at birth.

The ceremonial wreath signified remembrance of the late Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, who was instrumental in helping Gary Ellis initiate the light-tackle fishing tournaments. To date, the Redbone series has raised some $18 million for the cause.

Would it be too easy to make a joke about Johnson not handing the fish to Drew Storen because he’ll let it get away? Yes? OK, nevermind then.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.