- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
- Israel’s ambassador praises Obama, slams Human Rights Watch report
- Md. parents accused of locking up autistic twin sons
- Dancing Kim Jong-un video sparks North Korea fury
Johnson emphasizes Nationals’ business at hand
Question of the Day
NEW YORK — Davey Johnson has said the phrase so many times this season even he has to offer a wry smile. His managerial motto is that he focuses on today with an eye on tomorrow.
So while the calendar points to this weekend for the Washington Nationals' final showdown with the Atlanta Braves, a three-game series at Turner Field, Johnson's focus remains on the New York Mets.
"This is the only game I'm concerned about," Johnson said Monday afternoon from the dugout at Citi Field.
In some respects, the three-game series the Nationals began with the Mets on Monday night carries more weight. The drama of Stephen Strasburg's final start has been removed from the equation, his shutdown coming one start earlier than planned. But what they do here, and if there's any change in their division lead, will determine just how important their weekend in Atlanta will be.
"[The Mets] got three good pitchers going against us, a couple young guys that have promising futures," Johnson said of Colin McHugh, R.A. Dickey and Matt Harvey, though the Mets have been swept in four of their seven home series since the All-Star break. "They're trying to get something positive going. They'd like nothing more than to beat us.
"We know it's a big series coming up this weekend, but we'll deal with that when it comes up."
In the clubhouse Monday, there was no sense of urgency. The Nationals are aware that the Braves, who entered the opener of their series with Milwaukee trailing by 5½ games in the National League East, just swept the Mets. They also know that New York has long been a playoff afterthought.
But they've found comfort they've atop the standings, and they also know that it will take them playing worse than they have at any point in this charmed season to be pressured.
"We don't need to watch what [the Braves] are doing," said first baseman Adam LaRoche on Sunday evening as the Nationals prepared for arguably their most important final stretch of road games. "We're not relying on them to melt down. We're relying on ourselves to continue doing what we've done all year. And if we don't do that, it won't matter if those guys stay hot as they are now.
"This isn't a 'sit and wait for Atlanta to fall apart.' I don't think guys care what they do. When they lost it, [we] pick up a game. Great. But we need to get locked in and be focused going into October."
The Nationals will go into their weekend series without altering a starting rotation that has undergone few changes. Strasburg's absence, of course, changes things. But John Lannan will take his spot Wednesday in New York, and the Nationals will send Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez to the mound in Atlanta. The Braves will counter with Kris Medlen, Tommy Hanson and Mike Minor if they stay on-turn.
Just don't tell any of the Nationals that just yet.
"I think with LaRoche and [Ryan Zimmerman] and [Jayson] Werth, their leadership on this ballclub, they don't look ahead just like I don't look ahead," Johnson said. "They're keeping everybody focused on the job at hand."
Notes: Reliever Sean Burnett threw a bullpen Monday, testing his sore right elbow off a mound for the first time since taking more than a week off to rest. Burnett said the session went well, and the Nationals hope to have him available by Wednesday for the series finale, if not Tuesday.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- Obamacare dealt massive setback by federal appeals court
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- LYONS: Small-arms treaty, big Second Amendment threat
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq