The Washington Times - October 10, 2012, 12:09PM

By Tom Schad

Nationals manager Davey Johnson was loose and smiling as he sat down for his pregame press conference Wednesday morning. Here’s what the 69-year-old skipper had to say about his team before Game 3 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals:

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On whether he’s concerned about Danny Espinosa
“You know, he’s just a young hitter, aggressive, tons of talent.  [He] just needs to stay within himself. He’s made a lot of strides this year. The conditions in St. Louis were pretty tough. They’ve got some veteran hitters that have been in those conditions. My guys to a man all had problems picking up the ball and the spin on the ball. That, combined with a little inexperience – you can be overly aggressive. I don’t hold that against him. He always feels like he’s the right guy at the right time to do something, and a lot of times he does. But it’s just that inexperience – you can get overly aggressive, and he needs to be a little more patient. I think you’ll see a different hitter here. They’re more comfortable here, track the ball better here.”

On his history with former Nats manager Frank Robinson, who will throw out the first pitch Wednesday
“Frank, one of the greatest players I’ve ever been associated with. When I think of Frank Robinson, I think of the first time I ever saw him; he came into spring training and we had a game going on in Miami.  [I] said, ‘you want an at‑bat?’ and he said, ‘yeah’ and went and got his uni on. [He] had not had batting practice or nothing, I remember it like it was yesterday, and he hit one out of the ballpark, and all of us turned to each other and said, ‘we’ve got something here.’  And of course he went on to win the Triple Crown. [Robinson] plays the game hard, plays the game right and he was a big influence on me and the whole ballclub. We had a pretty good run with him there. I respect him and I think a lot of him. I think he’s been just an outstanding example of a true professional.” 

On his staff’s stronger performances at home
“This is home. The guys are comfortable here. The guys are comfortable in the clubhouse. Guys come early here. It’s a very familiar surrounding, background. You should perform better here at home, but I’m proud of this ballclub. We’ve done well on the road and performed well on the road, and that has not been the history here. So it’s always good to be home. Our fans, as the years have progressed, have gotten more active, more involved. [It’s] just a nice place to play.  It’s a beautiful ballpark. It’s nothing but fun here.” 

On Bryce Harper’s fever
“I think [relief pitcher Craig] Stammen had it in St. Louis and if one guy has it, other guys are going to get it. But I’m sure [Harper] – no matter how – I don’t care if he’s got a fever; if he wants to play, he’ll be fine. I’m not sure if it was the flu or whatever, but I know that Stammen had it real bad and he didn’t tell anybody. I don’t know - I haven’t heard from the trainers that he was really under the weather or anything. I’m sure he’s good to go.” 

On Edwin Jackson facing his former team 
“Well, I always think it’s an advantage. Remember, I’ve played behind pitchers, and then when I got traded, I knew what they threw and how they liked to work, whether they liked to work in or out and how they set up their breaking ball. So I think it’s a good advantage to know and play behind the pitcher. But good pitching shuts down good hitting, and if you make your pitches and do the things you’re capable of doing, you’re fine. It’s when you try to do too much, you try to get too fine, you get behind. Especially [against] experienced hitters, [he’ll] usually go right after them and be aggressive, make his pitches and be in that attack mode. He’s done that great all year.  I don’t see it being any different today.” 

On St. Louis’ Game 3 starter, Chris Carpenter 
“He’s a big‑game pitcher. The thing that we go over with our hitters is he likes to pound the strike zone with both pitches, and when he gets ahead, he likes to start it in the strike zone and have you chase it out of the zone. So we just need to be patient and be ready early.” 

On his confidence in Ross Detwiler starting Game 4
“He has really come a long way. A lot of these young pitchers, it generally takes – experience-wise, it generally takes a couple years. These guys have made tremendous progress this year.  I give a lot of credit to [pitching coach Steve] McCatty. They know what they are capable of doing. They know what their out pitch is. They know they need to use their secondary pitches more. Sometimes the problem that comes with good, young arms is you rely too much on your fastball. But I’ve seen him pitch some great ballgames. He’s got outstanding stuff, and he’s got good poise. I have never seen him get really rattled by the situation.”