Monday, April 11, 2011

Walter Johnson Heads Back to Washington; With Contract?

Washington Nationals star pitcher, Walter Johnson, is now headed back to the nation's capital today after leaving his Coffeyville, Kansas home last night. He was in St. Louis this morning according to the Washington Times after manager Jimmy McAleer offered him a three-year contract worth $21,000. At $7,000 per year, that is $500 more than McAleer's previous offer that sent Johnson packing.

Johnson told the Times that Coffeyville residents supported him in his row with Nationals management, believing that his services were worth at least that much. "When I went down to the Market square in Coffeyville, yesterday," Johnson told reporters, "I met a Coffeyville fan, who told me that if Ty Cobb is worth $9,000 a year in right field, I am certainly worth $7,500 in the pivotal position of the game."

From the Nationals camp, McAleer told the Washington Times that the contract Johnson would be signing was the same deal they offered him at training camp: $6,500 for one year, all but ensuring that there will be renewed fight next year based on the experience the Detroit Tigers have had with Ty Cobb.

When Johnson departed at 9 o'clock this morning for Washington, it was still not known whether Johnson would accept McAleer's contract offer. Even if he does, he is not likely to start tomorrow's opening day game against the Boston Red Sox. The pitcher will require at least two days' rest after his long train journey from Kansas. "Dolly" Gray is expected to get the opening day start, despite his absymal record last season. In 1910, Gray went 8-19, the second highest loss total in the majors. He also had an ERA of 2.63. By comparison, Johnson had a great season on an otherwise lackluster Nationals team, going 25-17 with an ERA of 1.36. Johnson is expected to arrive in Washington tomorrow at noon, leaving only three hours before the game starts.

Tomorrow's opening day game will come only three weeks after a devastating fire that destroyed the grandstands at National Park. While work continues on the new steel-and-concrete stands to replace the destroyed wooden structure, already 13,000 seats will be available for tomorrow's home opener, a capacity 4,000 greater than the earlier structure was capable of holding. Washingtonian D.S. Van Buskirk was the first to buy a ticket at the new stadium. Van Buskirk works for the Interstate Commerce Commission and is a big fan of Walter Johnson.

Link: Fans Joyful Over News that Johnson has Decided to Come Back to the Fold [The Washington Times]
Link: Walter Johnson Leaves Home for Washington [The Washington Herald]

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