DETROIT — Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson reiterated Wednesday that he does not see his team making any big moves before Major League Baseball’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
Johnson had just hung up from general manager Mike Rizzo when he met with reporters before the Nationals’ matinee against the Detroit Tigers. He said the conversation between the two focused more on pitching coach Steve McCatty, who is set to be released from the hospital on Wednesday, and different day-to-day issues for the club rather than any big trade discussions.
The sense Johnson got from the GM, he said, was that the team was not close to any deals.
“(Rizzo) is always trying to do something to help the club,” Johnson said. “But I didn’t feel like there was anything imminent. And I kind of knew that.”
But Johnson also stressed that the Nationals’ evaluation of their own talent has changed little. He focused on taking it day-by-day and trying to win series. Essentially, he wanted the Nationals to keep their focus on improving themselves before they worried about any kind of race.
That said, and despite the fact that they opened the day with a 52-55 record and were 10 games back in the National League East, Johnson maintained his firm belief that the Nationals could still play to their potential and make a run, even revisiting his offseason prediction of ‘World Series or bust.’
“I said going into (2012) if everybody played up to their potential we could win our division and everybody did that,” Johnson said. “Young guys were a big part of our success last year. But having young guys in a role sitting on the bench, coming off the bench, we were not capable of that (this year). A couple of young guys and a couple new additions didn’t play like they’re capable of.
“You don’t just tear up the talent pool and make big change for the sake of making change. I don’t regret saying ‘World Series or bust,’ (even though) it’s looking more like bust. This is my last go-around anyway but what I want to do is what’s best for the organization. I want this organization to continue being a first-division balcllub. The Lerner family’s done that, Rizzo’s done that, we’re just not holding up our end on the field. But I am optimistic with this team.”
The Nationals’ time is getting short, and shorter with each game they let slip away, but Johnson again pointed to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who went from last in the NL West to first with an historic run the last few weeks. The Dodgers went 27-6 in 33 games — the best such stretch for any Dodger team since they moved to Los Angeles.
“We do have the talent,” Johnson said. “We’re not out of this thing. We’re still in this thing. I like the way our schedule is stacking up the rest of the way. We can do similar to what the Dodgers did. I like my talent here, too.”
The July 31 trade deadline also marks the start of the waiver deal period in baseball, and the Nationals could be active throughout August in making deals with players who clear waivers, if they’re so inclined.