Davey Johnson is taking retirement seriously, staying away from the winter meetings and telling the Nationals he doesn’t want to be involved in spring training, but Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that new manager Matt Williams is trying to change his mind:
I asked him to come to spring training. He’s not far from the spring training complex. He is extremely respectful of me and the staff and doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Hopefully he will call and let us know he’s coming, and we’ll make a big to‑do. We’ll have a big cake. … I asked him to come into the office and sit down and talk baseball. I’d love to pick his brain. Hopefully he accepts that and we can do that.
Johnson has said previously that he doesn’t think seeing him in uniform during spring training would do his replacement any good in terms of fully taking over the job, but Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo both want him there and want him to remain involved with the team in general.
The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.
Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.
While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.