The Washington Nationals are leaning toward bringing back manager Jim Riggleman next season. They haven't made it official, though.

"There's nothing officially been announced that Jim's going to manage next year," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Friday night. "He deserves to be the manager next year. I have all the faith in the world in him. He's a terrific manager. We expect him to be here for a long time."

The Nationals are 42-55 and last in the NL East following their 7-5 loss to Milwaukee on Friday night.

Riggleman was promoted from bench coach to interim manager midway through last season, replacing the fired Manny Acta in July. The Nationals were 26-61 (a .299 winning percentage) at the time and went 33-42 (.440) under Riggleman, finishing with a seven-game winning streak.

"He runs the game itself extremely well. He's got extreme respect here in the clubhouse, runs a good tight ship, but people respect him and like to play for him," Rizzo said.

While the team finished with a major league-worst record of 59-103 last season, there was a sense that Riggleman's pregame fielding drills and postgame clubhouse talks were helping the young players on a rebuilding team.

Riggleman was hired full-time in the offseason and agreed to a one-year contract with a club option for 2011. Rizzo said a decision is not imminent, and contract terms are not the issue.

"We're not going to make any estimations when we're going to do it," he said. "It's something I'd like to work on. Jim and I have been talking throughout the season. We'll talk with ownership and see where it leads us."

The Nationals are the fourth team Riggleman has managed, following the Padres, Cubs and Mariners. His best season was 1998, when the Cubs won an NL wild-card tiebreaker over the Giants and made the playoffs. They lost to Atlanta in the division series 3-0.

"I love managing, period," Riggleman said. "This is what I want to do. For me, if I get the opportunity to manage the Nationals or if it's my last job in baseball, it would be a real thrill for me."

He said he hopes to stay on, but realizes that how the team does the remainder of the season means a lot.

"We have a lot of season to play," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be worthy of coming back."