ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first few lineups Davey Johnson pens himself will come under a bit more scrutiny and garner a bit more interest than perhaps any of the other 80 he puts together for the rest of the season. There’s a reason behind each move and it’s always interesting to hear it.
For example, Johnson threw out a lineup Wednesday afternoon that was missing four of his regular starters and featured Jerry Hairston and Brian Bixler as the corner infielders. But several Nationals have some nagging injuries that could balloon into something bigger if they’re not tended to when the team has a chance. Thus, with an offday Thursday, you get Wednesday’s lineup.
“We’re winning a war,” Johnson said. “All the battles are very important. I hate to equate it to the military but it’s the same kind of thing. What you don’t want to do is go out there and have one of your guys get hurt or a little under the weather and then you lose them for a bunch of games so, especially this time of year, I’m going to err on the safe side.
“I go back to, you win with 25 guys. If I don’t get my other guys an opportunity to play either they’re not going to be able to contribute. Sure I want my front line guys in there. Even Ramos came in today and he’s sick. I guess sometimes when it rains it pours but I feel very confident about the lineup that’s out there.”
Ian Desmond and Laynce Nix are managing left quad and right Achilles injuries, respectively, while Jayson Werth is dealing with some tightness in his left hip and Wilson Ramos was under the weather with flu-like symptoms.
With Nix and Werth both ailing it left the Nationals with something of a shortage of outfielders. While Hairston and Bixler are both capable in the outfield, they’re both traditionally infielders — something that didn’t go unnoticed by Johnson.
“Bixler and Hairston, i’ve got two guys who pretty much can do about anything and it’s nice to have when we’re going through what we’re going through today,” Johnson said. “But we’re really short in the outfield and basically we have infielders. I’d be more comfortable if one of them was an outfielder but that’s a whole other story, I think.”
As for more about the injuries that are hampering the Nationals:
On Jayson Werth: “From what I gather there was a hip or something,” Johnson said. “It locked up on him during the game last night and he had to go down and they were yanking all over him, trying to get it loose and it wasn’t great but he went out there and finished the game, but he texted the trainer this morning and the fact is I went to the trainer and I said if we have a problem and he comes in like that I’m banging him. I’m not waiting around, hoping it loosens up, putting him out there and then he pulls a hamstring because of it. It also comes in where we’ve got tomorrow off so get a chance to get back to 100 percent.”
On Laynce Nix: “It was just getting really sore and tender throughout (Tuesday’s) game,” Nix said of the right Achilles that has bothered him. “I just don’t want to push it to the point where I can’t return.”
“It’s really (frustrating),” he added. “I don’t like coming off the field at any time. But I try to take the current situation out of making any determination. I don’t want to push it beyond the bounds just because I had a few hits or whatever.”
Nix does feel that he can continue to play through the soreness while getting a day off here and there to give him some extra rest.
“I don’t know if I’m going to have this for the whole season, but I think there are little places where I can rest it,” he said. “For right now, the way it feels, I think it’s probably the best thing. I was able to stay out there in Chicago. I’ve been feeling it the last couple days. If there is an opportunity to take advantage of that, I’ll take it.”
Desmond said he was just getting a routine day off, the third straight time he’s gotten a day before an offday to continue to help him rest his quad.
– The Nationals signed J.C. Romero to a minor league deal on Wednesday, giving them a possible second lefty to add to their bullpen if he can prove his worth with Triple-A Syracuse. The idea of adding a left-hander was something that Johnson said he was definitely interested in. Sean Burnett is currently the only left-handed reliever on the Nationals staff.
“I think everybody (feels they need two lefties),” he said. “We’ve got some quality arms down there, don’t get me wrong, but, again, it’s a left-hander that can get people out. Just having a lefty (isn’t the point.) I want a guy who can come in and get a guy out. Romero, I think, is a great pick up.”