Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson has seemingly exhausted the various possible lineup combinations he can form with his roster. He’s moved guys around and subbed different guys in and out, but he’s still trying desperately to find the combination that will make his underachieving offense click.
Tuesday he tried another new one: putting Ryan Zimmerman in the No. 2 spot for the first time in his career.
Bryce Harper was back at leadoff, followed by Zimmerman in the No. 2 spot, Jayson Werth — back after being a scratch with a sore groin on Monday — at No. 3 and Adam LaRoche hitting cleanup. Ian Desmond stayed in the same general area at No. 5 but Wilson Ramos, who hit cleanup in Werth’s absence on Monday, moved to sixth.
So why the change?
“It’s just something,” Johnson said. “I don’t know. Sometimes I like to try to change it up.
“Some of our guys have not been successful against left-handed pitching. I like to give distance between them. I also like the higher on-base percentage guys getting up earlier.”
Then, knowing his team has scored two runs or fewer in 45 percent of their games and begin the day 13.5 games back in the division, Johnson essentially shrugged his shoulders.
“I was throwing things up against the wall and that one stuck,” he said. “I had to go tell Zim, don’t get mad at me because I’m hitting you No. 2. He said he wouldn’t.”
Werth received what Johnson called “extreme treatment” on his sore groin, and he’s also still recovering from getting hit in the ribs and the right hand with pitches on Sunday. He told Johnson that he was feeling better than he did Monday.
“He said ‘Put me in there,’” Johnson said. “So he’s in there.”
Here are the full lineups as the Nationals send Gio Gonzalez to the mound against Julio Teheran:
Bryce Harper LF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Jayson Werth RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Ian Desmond SS
Wilson Ramos C
Denard Span CF
Anthony Rendon 2B
Gio Gonzalez P
Jason Heyward RF
Justin Upton LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Brian McCann C
Chris Johnson 3B
Dan Uggla 2B
B.J. Upton CF
Andrelton Simmons SS
Julio Teheran P