Hurdle gets to match wits with Nats' Johnson

Hurdle gets to match wits with Nats' Johnson

PITTSBURGH -- As a journeyman outfielder during his playing days, Clint Hurdle played for a number of different managers. But now, Hurdle has a chance to match managerial wits with one of them -- which is why he is looking forward to the three-game series with the Washington Nationals that begins Tuesday night at PNC Park.

Hurdle played for Washington skipper Davey Johnson as a member of the Mets in 1985 and '87 (unfortunately for him, he detoured to St. Louis in 1986, when the Mets won the World Series).

The 69-year-old Johnson was "retired" for 10 1/2 years until replacing Jim Riggleman in the middle of last season -- and his decision to stay on the job is interpreted by Hurdle as a sign that the Nationals' fast start (18-9 entering Sunday with a game-and-a-half lead in the National League East) is not a mirage.

"For him to re-engage in that job ... there must be something significant going on for him to get involved," said Hurdle, who has "a lot of affection and respect" for Johnson.