Jul 2, 2011, 4:25 AM EDT
US Presswire photo
Matt Stairs is congratulated by Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos.
There’s a certain level of trust a manager must give his players if he wants them to succeed, an acknowledgment on his part that he believes in each of the 25 individuals on his roster. And he must display that trust in different ways. It could be letting a starting pitcher work his way out of a seventh-inning jam. It could be letting a struggling young shortstop understand why you’re pinch-hitting for him with the game on the line.
And it could be letting a 43-year-old with a .132 batting average but a career’s worth of clutch hits step to the plate with all the marbles riding on that at-bat.
Davey Johnson has always been called a “players’ manager,” a designation that sounds good but means something only if it’s true. In Johnson’s case, it is. He puts trust in his players. And more often than not, they reward him for it.
How else to explain the decision to pinch-hit Matt Stairs for Ian Desmond in the bottom of the ninth Friday night, then watch as the aging slugger scorched a fastball from reliever Tim Wood off the right-field wall, the 360-foot single that gave the Nationals a 2-1 victory over the Pirates?
Never mind that Stairs was 4-for-32 with zero RBI as a pinch-hitter this season. That he’s been on the roster continuously since Opening
NL EAST STANDINGS
TUE: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Braves, 7:10 p.m.
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
Follow us on Twitter
- After nailbiter, Nationals on the cusp of a clinch
- Strasburg dominates as Nats win 4-2
- Harper latest Nats player to come down with bug
- LaRoche named finalist for Man of Year award
- Zimmerman ready for game action in Viera
- Strasburg tries to exorcise Atlanta demons
- Nationals putting NLDS tickets on sale Monday
- State of the Nats: Nationals can clinch this week against rivals
- Can the Nationals clinch in Atlanta this week?
- Nationals lower magic number to four, top Mets