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Digging deep into his bag of tricks

Jul 3, 2011, 4:34 AM EST

US Presswire photo
Rick Ankiel slides in safely with the go-ahead run in the eighth.

This is not the style of baseball Davey Johnson wants his Washington Nationals to play.

Scraping together the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth on a hit batter, two walks, a double steal, a throwing error and an opposite-field single by his pinch-hitting backup catcher? Not exactly a page out of “Davey Johnson’s Guide to Managing.”

“I love to score runs,” he said from his office at Nationals Park following Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the Pirates, hours after a 5-3 loss in the opener of a doubleheader. “I’m kind of an offensive manager, and it’s … I’m having to open up a new playbook, and it’s not what I like: to have to steal and hope they throw it away and get a run across. We’ve got too many good hitters in that other room.”

Problem is, several of those “good” hitters in the Nationals clubhouse simply aren’t hitting right now. Ryan Zimmerman is sporting a .219 average (the second-lowest it’s ever been more than 100 at-bats into a big-league season). Jayson Werth is hitting .224 and striking out at an alarming rate (enough to convince a crowd of 39,638 Saturday night to boo the $126 million right fielder with gusto). Ian Desmond
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  1. JaneB - Jul 3, 2011 at 5:19 AM

    I hope they can put together enough junk tomorrow to takevthis series. Most of all, I hope our guys stop getting hit and hurt.12 hours from now, I'll ve sitting in the sun waiting for someone to shout, "play ball." Can't wait.GYFNG!

  2. Drew8 - Jul 3, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    Sure would be nice to see the bats break out on Sunday.With the Buccos in town, everybody's looked back at the Nyjer-Burnett, Milledge-Hanrahan deal.With the Cubbies coming in next, I thought we should check up on the Gorzy deal. That one's looking pretty good for Rizzo.You'll recall that to get Gorzy the Nats sent the Cubs OF Michael Burgess — a 2007 first-round pick; and pitchers A.J. Morris and Graham Hicks.Seems Burgess still can't hit Uncle Charlie. In his fifth year of minor league ball he's hitting .194 in high-A.Hicks has a 1-3 record and a 4.22 ERA at A-level Peoria. I can't find Morris. He initially was listed on the Daytona Cubs' roster. Dunno if he's hurt, or what.

  3. Scooter - Jul 3, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    Drew, I'm pretty sure I heard Morris had surgery. (I recall that NatsJack was … um, quite fond of Morris … so he might remember better than I.) I think the injury was known at the time of the trade — he may even have already had the surgery — so it's not like the Nats were trying to con anybody.Morris was probably the biggest part in that trade, so we'll have to defer our results-based judgment.

  4. NatsJack in Florida - Jul 3, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Correct. A.J. Morris had TWO tears in his right labrum at the time of the trade and the Cubs STILL insisted that he be included in the trade.He is now rehabbing in Arizona and is out till next spring.

  5. natsfan1a - Jul 3, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    Here's a rather detailed account of the P-Nats game last night, particularly on the Wang front. of my baseball buddies asked a radar-gun-toting dude where he had Wang topping out, and he said 90, although some others were showing 91, hence the range in the piece, I guess. A number of them did pop into the catcher's mitt rather loudly, I thought.)

  6. natsfan1a - Jul 3, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    ("Them," being the pitched balls, natch. :-))

  7. Anonymous - Jul 3, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    As bad as the hitting has been it is amazing we are 500. It pains me to think about were we could be if werth and zimm could evven hit .275. UGHHHHHHH what a waste.

  8. Tim - Jul 3, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Here's the things that concern me right now:Davey, earlier in the week, said he doesn't really care for the roster we have, and then last night says that he doesn't like to manufacture runs with speed (at least that's my translation). Last night were the first stolen base attempts since he's been here.Has he appraised this roster? Desmond: speed. Bernie: speed. Espi: speed. Werth: speed. Bixler: speed. This roster was built by design on athleticism.Are we gonna start over (again) and have good hit, no field lummoxes out there? We are playing .500 ball because of pitching, defense, and speed. We CAN manufacture runs by putting pressure on other teams with our speed: 1st-to-3rd, SBs, squeeze plays, and forcing throws (just like last night when the catcher's throw was poor and the thow from the outfield on Ankiel's play at the plate was not that good). Pressure, pressure, pressure. Aggressiveness. That was our mantra.I don't wanna start over.

  9. sjm308 - Jul 3, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Not that I am comparing them to last years World Champions but what did San Francisco call their offense last year? They scrapped and hustled and pitched well and look what happened. We are not going to win the NL East but we are scrapping and hustling and good things are happening. Just looked at an article over on sports about players who have changed teams and Werth is not even in the bottom 10 for worst performers. Besides Dunn who is leading that list Uggla is batting .178, Figgins who changed the year before is at .186 and Vernon Wells is .216 and is in 10th on that list. I am not saying Werth is doing well, that is obvious but it was interesting to read about Dunn's issues and how moving to a new location is just more then putting on a different uniform. Lets hope for a strong 2nd half from both Zimm and Werth and if that happens, Look Out Braves!!go Nats!!

  10. sjm308 - Jul 3, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Tim: good points but what I think is happening is that DJ tells reporters what he honestly is thinking where Riggs and Manny just chattered. I think Davey is a good enough baseball man to understand what he has here and while he "wants" that 3 run home run to dominate, he sees that is not happening so he will make the most out of what he has. I will be really upset if Bernie, and Desmond stop putting pressure on the pitcher and catcher and stop stealing. Not sure what our percentage is but I think Desi has only been caught a couple of times. I also liked Riggs use of the hit and run and think DJ used that at least once yesterday as well. Count me in that same group that doesn't want to start over. We are what we are (for this year anyway)

  11. MicheleS - Jul 3, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Drew… thanks for the update on the Minors (other thread) Good to know that info, when we have September call ups. (Also, on the O's rant.. I should have said "Bless their hearts, they just stink" – something I learned from living in the South, when Someone says Bless their hearts, just wait for the slam.)1a. thanks for the link… Anybody thinking DJ is pyschology game here? I mean he hates the lineup, lack of offense, wants changes, yada yada yada, but never really calls out the players? Have you heard him bash Zim or Werth? I know he did a little with Burnett, but I think he was also trying to pump him up. Plus he put his stamp of approval on Bernadina on the CF/leadoff job. And outside of the baserunning brain freeze he did pretty good yesterday.Lets take the series today!!! GO NATS

  12. Doc - Jul 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Right on guys!DJ and Earl Weaver may look at baseball stats and hold the 3 run HR in high esteem. But for these Nats I don't think that they should give up their day job—yet!

  13. Big Cat - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Any word on Morse's arm. That was a very bad looking goose egg he had on it. Hopefully, its not broken. But it did not look good at all.

  14. Steve J, Alexandria - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Davey reaching into his bag of tricks and doing things he doesnt necessarily like to do …" Kinda helps Riggleman to be understood a little better and maybe appreciated. I used to count the little moves Riggleman would make during a game and talley them up: thumbs up or thumbs down. More than once I thought how Riggleman was managing his arse off and winning with such an anemic hitting team. It didnt take Johnson very long to surrender to the reality that he has a team that should hit better but doesnt.I sure did like that lineup he had in last nights second game — it produced. This team, under Johnson (and a bagfull of tricks) will continue to win games and be fun to watch.

  15. Anonymous - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Werth deserves to be booed with gusto. He just plain sucks. Zimmerman is terrible too but at least there is a justifiable reason for that.

  16. NG - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    Mark-I was wondering if you could provide your thoughts on what the Nats plans are for Chien-Ming Wang? He made his first rehab start on 6/27, and as I understand it, has no options left, so he would have to be added to the major league roster by 7/27 or go through waivers. Certainly things could change in the next few weeks, but no one currently in the rotation has been pitching poorly enough to warrant a removal. Late July would still be well before Jordan Zimmermann hits his innings limit. John Lannan is the only other starter with options. So, it wouldn't seem that he's slated to replace someone presently in the rotation absent a trade. Are they trying to showcase Wang for a trade? Is Wang the replacement for a likely Jason Marquis deadline trade?

  17. Anonymous commenter performance evaluator - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    booo booooOOO BOOOOO!!!

  18. Big Cat - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    So its Detwiler on Wed huh? The Nats insist on force feeding this guy to the bigs…..probably cause he's a number 1 pick. He doesn't have the stuff to be a starter in the bigs. The sooner they face this fact, the better. They should give Milone a shot…..or Peacock

  19. sjm308 - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    I think lots of us are rooting for Milone but he is not on the 40 man roster so its easier to move Ross up for just one game. We do have slots that could be moved on that 40 man roster and I am wondering if Rizzo is even thinking about that for now. For what it is worth, Lombardozzi and Antonelli are not on the 40 man roster either.MicheleS – if you want really really good coverage of the minors, check out – they do a great wrap up each day with links to box scores and a terrific spread sheet of just about all our players. I usually hit that after reading Mark and of course all the comments here.

  20. Feel Wood - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Wang could easily be Davey's long man/swing starter in the bullpen until it's time to shut Zimmermann down. They could even go to a quasi-six man rotation by having Wang and Zimmermann alternate starts. Think outside the box. You know Davey will.

  21. Feel Wood - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Wang could easily be Davey's long man/swing starter in the bullpen until it's time to shut Zimmermann down. They could even go to a quasi-six man rotation by having Wang and Zimmermann alternate starts. Think outside the box. You know Davey will.

  22. FS - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Missed both games because I was at a family function (which I should have missed for games). Anyways, good to know we earned a split. Great to know Livan and Lannan did well and good job Pudge as well.I think at this point in his career if he can get more regular playing time that would be better. He has earned possibly all awards in baseball possible, just one milestone is out of reach right now that is 3000 hits. I would very much like to keep this guy but if that milestone is important to him, let him have a go at it where he can get more playing time. Then again I can't think of many teams willing to have him on.

  23. Oldguy - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    MLB has Zimmermann pitching today. That can't be right, can it? Didn't he pitch Thursday?

  24. Steve J, Alexandria - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    I believe Marquis is going today. the paper and web is incorrect.

  25. Anonymous - Jul 3, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    natsfan1a,tks for the PNats-Wang link. i was there too. i thought he threw OK, not great. and looked 'stiff' with his delivery. perhaps he threw like that before injury. a few balls were hit pretty hard, though he kept all the balls down except one in the first inning. not MLB ready yet i don't think.

  26. SonnyG10 - Jul 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Tim, I really agree with you. I don't want to start over either. I hope DJ realizes the steroid era is over. You are not going to be living off the home runs anymore. I think we'd be in pretty good shape if Zim and werth and the rest of the guys just live up to their past averages. Maybe Desi is just in a sophomore slump???On another note, does anyone know the title and the name of the artist that is played for Michael Morse when he comes up to bat? I love the melody of that song, but I don't know the words or who does it.

  27. JaneB - Jul 3, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    SonnyG10…Morse has a few songs. Don't know what the first song is; second at- bat is one I love, and hear people sing to. It is called, "Take on Me," and I think it's a band called Aha. It's pretty cheerful and chirpy. And completely unlike any song anyone else is playing, far as I can tell.

  28. SonnyG10 - Jul 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    Thanks JaneB. I'll see if I can find it. I think it is the one I like.

  29. Anonymous - Jul 3, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    It seems to me that if the Z-man is still playing "hurt," he should be a man about it and sit himself down. I never understood guys who "tough it out" and continue to play through injuries, but, in the end, actually hurt their teams with poor defense and bad at-bats.

  30. Don - Jul 3, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Yes – "Take me On" by aha…I was at the last Orioles game, the sections along the 3B line and left field started singing it when it came on, kept going after it ended and went until the part where the singer goes into his upper range. Then we all stopped and laughed, it was pretty bad. It would be great if the stadium started singing it whenever he came up to bat.

  31. SonnyG10 - Jul 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    JaneB and Don, you were right. I've found the song on the internet and downloaded the sheet music for it. Thanks!





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