VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals have been holding formal workouts here for a week now, and one thing has become abundantly clear: A Davey Johnson-run spring training is not like most spring trainings.
Johnson likes to do things a bit differently than his predecessors with this franchise. Most notably, he keeps workouts brief, typically no more than two hours. He encourages camaraderie among his players. He wants them to enjoy themselves.
And he stays out of everyone's way. Yes, he's out there on the field and is engaging with players. But he doesn't hover over everything and demand perfection on every single drill.
As one player put it to me this morning: "He treats us like professionals."
Now, it certainly helps that the Nationals' clubhouse is filled with way more veterans than in any previous year. It's tough for a manager to treat guys like professionals when the roster is littered with journeymen and rookies.
But it also goes beyond that. Johnson exudes a level of confidence you'll rarely find in a manager or head coach in any sport. Did you miss him telling Comcast SportsNet's Kelli Johnson that he should be fired if the Nationals don't make the playoffs this season?
Who says that kind of thing? Only someone with an incredible sense of security.
"Davey doesn't have to impress anyone," the player said. "Not us. Not the front office. Not you guys."
Whether this translates into more wins remains to be seen. There's more to managing than dealing with players. There's plenty of in-game decisions that determine wins and losses, and we still have to see how Johnson performs in that department over a whole season.
But Johnson certainly carries himself in a manner not seen around here in a while. And so far, the Nationals are enjoying every minute of it.