Nationals manager Davey Johnson was a few minutes late for his pregame media session on Saturday. He can be forgiven. A Texas A&M fan (and former student), Johnson was watching the early action in the Aggies game against Alabama.
He’s not a lifelong fan. Johnson admitted he didn’t pay a whole lot of attention until last season, when the Aggies posted a regular-season victory over the eventual national champion Crimson Tide.
“I never did until last year, we’d never won a big game in our life,” Johnson said. “Last year was a different story. The SEC - it is exciting now.”
Johnson has met Aggies quarterback and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, but said he has not been in touch with him lately.
“I don’t tweet,” Johnson said with a laugh.
Johnson’s degree, in mathematics, is from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
As for baseball, Johnson said he didn’t have much of an update on starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who was scratched from his start Friday with forearm soreness. The Nats don’t think it is serious. Strasburg is scheduled to play catch Sunday and, they hope, make another start on Thursday. His next scheduled turn is Wednesday, but Johnson said the Nats’ braintrust didn’t think he could be ready by then. So Ross Ohlendorf, who pitched five strong innings on Friday, will start on Wednesday.
Strasburg was not in the clubhouse Saturday during the time the media was allowed to visit.
Johnson also didn’t have an update on the bullpen session thrown by left-hander Ross Detwiler on Sunday, other than it had taken place. Johnson did say Detwiler probably will need one more bullpen session, likely on Tuesday, before he faces hitters in a simulated game-type situation.
Detwiler hopes to at least pitch out of the bullpen before the season ends, but he’s running out of time as the season ends two weeks from Sunday. Johnson said Detwiler did not want to play winter ball. The organization may want him to play so he has a chance before spring training to show he’s past the issue that has kept him on the disabled list since July 7.
And finally, the lineups for Saturday’s middle game of the series as left-hander Gio Gonzalez (10-6, 3.31 ERA) throws for the Nats against lefty Cole Hamels (7-13, 3.45) Gonzalez is 5-1 with a 2.22 ERA in seven career starts against the Phillies. Washington leadoff hitter Denard Span takes a 24-game hit streak into the contest.
The Reds beat the Brewers 7-3 Saturday, so Washington needs to win to stay 4 1/2 games behind the Reds in the wild card race.
Cesar Hernandez, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Chase Utley, 2B
Carlos Ruiz, 2B
Darin Ruf, 1B
Cody Asche, 3B
Freddy Galvis, LF
John Mayberry, RF
Cole Hamels, P
Denard Span, CF
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Jayson Werth, RF
Ian Desmond, SS
Bryce Harper, LF
Wilson Ramos, C
Tyler Moore, 1B
Anthony Rendon, 2B
Gio Gonzalez, P