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Davey: Nats regulars will continue to play

Sep 24, 2013, 7:26 PM EDT

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ST. LOUIS — Though his team isn’t playing for anything but pride at this point, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he plans to continue using his regulars through the season’s final week, certainly over the next two days against a Cardinals club still trying to clinch the NL Central title.

“These games are important for the division race,” Johnson said prior to Tuesday night’s game at Busch Stadium. “If they’re going to win the division, they need to earn it. And I think we’ve got enough pride here that we don’t want them to have an easy road. And I know my guys feel the same way, too.”

The Nationals were officially eliminated from playoff contention Monday night, but the Cardinals enter play Tuesday two games ahead of both the Pirates and Cardinals in the NL Central, with five games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

With nothing at stake from their perspective, the Nationals could use these final few games to get a look at several young players who mostly have sat on the bench all month, a group that includes Tyler Moore, Steve Lombardozzi, Zach Walters and Corey Brown.

Johnson, though, feels it’s appropriate to play his regular lineup against another team still trying to clinch a division title. He also doesn’t feel like those regulars need a break during the season’s final series at Arizona this weekend, even though the Diamondbacks were previously eliminated from contention.

On top of that, Johnson doesn’t believe a couple games in the last week of September is going to change the Nationals’ perspective on young players’ abilities.

“I know the talent, and the organization knows the talent,” said Johnson, who won’t be returning as manager next year. “We’ve given them a little experience up here. Most of them here have been in ballgames. All of them have been in ballgames.

“If [one of the starters] can’t go, we’ve got some guys that I’m sure are champing to get in there. But surely we don’t need any rest. We’re gonna have an off-day [Thursday] and then we’re gonna have five months, six months. So it’s not like we’re gonna be worn out.”

After trying to scratch and claw their way back into the race over the last six weeks, the Nationals found themselves in an unfamiliar position Tuesday: Preparing to play a game that meant nothing for them.

“You want to be looking ahead and setting up your thing for the playoffs,” Johnson said. “That’s what you do. All of a sudden, it hits you like a ton of bricks and say: ‘Oh, dang, now what am I gonna do?’ I go home, that’s what I do.”

  1. kirbs3256 - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    I would love to see Zack Walters get some AB’s at SS. Let Ian rest the hammy. I would LOVE to see what T-MO can do at 1B for a week strait. I would like to see either Perez or Brown get in every game to fight for that last bench spot next year….But I do like the idea that you put your best foot forward against the Cardinals. (I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to win these next two and help knock them out of winning the division).

    As sad as i’m going to be to see the season end, I am really looking forward to the off-season chaos of new manager interviews. How often do you see a team with our talent pool get a manager job open??? It is going to be quite a fight and probably some big names that come in.

  2. dcwx61 - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    I doubt there’s a manager in the league that takes care of his regulars as well as Davey.
    Let irrationality rule once more

  3. kirbs3256 - Sep 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    And to the manager stuff……..

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bs-sp-knorr-nationals-0924-20130923,0,5814274.story?track=rss

    From Kilgore….I feel like Knorr has really been running this team the last month or so with some of Davey’s health stuff.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Sep 24, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    kirbs, though Walters knocked the snot out of the ball in Syracuse, there is no where to hide his glove. With Hairston signed for next year, for better or worse, I see no spot for Eury Perez, though he is a better fielder than Scotty. Can Corey Brown give a better alternative to Bernadina ands/or Tracy? Tyler Moore is the wild card, though the outfield is not his happy place, and there seems to be little trust in his glove at first by the present staff. I’d like see him get in a few games at first, too, especially against left handed pitching.
    The only problem with playing spoiler with the Cards is that we could effectively help to give the stinkin’ Braves home field advantage in the playoffs.

  5. Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    “These games are important for the division race,” Johnson said prior to Tuesday night’s game at Busch Stadium. “If they’re going to win the division, they need to earn it. And I think we’ve got enough pride here that we don’t want them to have an easy road. And I know my guys feel the same way, too.”

    “These games are important for the division race…” There is SO much wrong with this.

    Maybe so, but the Nats don’t figure in the division race. So what’s important for the division race should take second billing to what’s important for the Nats.

    If Davey thinks what’s most important for the Nats is winning the remaining games, even though they’re going to end up in second place whether they win them all or lose them all, then by all means, trot out your regulars.

    But if you think the long-term good of the team is more important, then how is it helping to keep the September call-ups on the bench, and dismissing them airily with, “We’ve given them a little experience up here. Most of them here have been in ballgames. All of them have been in ballgames.”?

    I remember reading one of Jim Bouton’s books (can’t remember if it was “Ball Four” or “I’m Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally”), where he writes about how the coaches treated players. They would spend all kinds of time with you if you were a star. If you were a regular, somewhere above-replacement level kind of guy, you got a quick, “Hey, howyadoin’?” as the coach walked past you.

    And if you were struggling to break into the lineup, you got ignored completely.

    Sounds like that’s what we’re seeing here. Plus ça change…

    • adcwonk - Sep 25, 2013 at 9:56 AM

      “These games are important for the division race…” There is SO much wrong with this.

      Maybe so, but the Nats don’t figure in the division race. So what’s important for the division race should take second billing to what’s important for the Nats.

      I disagree with you here. It’s standard baseball etiquette for ages: you don’t play your second string against another team that’s still in the pennant race. Like it or not, rational or not, that’s the way it is in baseball.

      As for the screams that TyMo should have played last night — ALR is much better against righties than TyMo. I would have agreed _if_ it had been a left-hander starting.

      • Candide - Sep 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM

        Read the last sentence of the fifth paragraph of the story above (about the dbacks series) and tell me how that involves the division race.

      • adcwonk - Sep 25, 2013 at 11:34 AM

        If it’s all regulars all the time in Arizona (we won’t really know till we get there), I’ll change my tune a bit.

        But for the Cards series, at least, I understand Davey’s lineups.

      • adcwonk - Sep 29, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        I was referring to the Cards series, not the Ariz series. And, indeed, we see that in the Ariz series, a number of 2d string guys _did_ play.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
WASHINGTON 58 48 --
ATLANTA 58 51 1.5
MIAMI 53 55 6.0
NEW YORK 52 56 7.0
PHILADELPHIA 48 61 11.5
Through Thursday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 12:35 p.m.
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