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
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