On a team with a lineup that requires few pinch hitters and even fewer defensive replacements, the Nationals' bench players, Chad Tracy, Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore and Roger Bernadina, are faced with a difficult transition.
From his perch on the steps of the Washington Nationals' dugout, hitting coach Rick Eckstein has a front row seat for the work of his offense. For a while, it was a seat that was scrutinized from the outside.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson was sitting in his office Tuesday afternoon while shortstop Ian Desmond took to the field at AT&T Park for early batting practice. On Monday, he'd successfully gone through his first full baseball workout since going on the disabled list July 22 with a left oblique strain. Tuesday's early hitting was the next step.
What the Washington Nationals found when they arrived at Citi Field on Tuesday afternoon was history set to repeat.
In a sweatshirt and shorts, looking relaxed as usual, Ian Desmond sat on a couch inside the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday watching an afternoon game. The night before, he'd hit a home run. The night before that, he'd hit a home run. Before that, it was doubles in back-to-back games.
The silence that pervaded the visitor's clubhouse at PNC Park on Wednesday night was drenched in frustration. Players sat quietly at their lockers or swiftly made their way toward the showers and the waiting busses. Not too many, it seemed, wanted to spend much time reliving what had just transpired.
The moment the ball hit his bat, Wilson Ramos knew. He flung his arms out, dropped his bat and lifted his hands above his head. He held the pose all the way to first base, as his teammates poured out of the Washington Nationals' dugout, the clock inching toward 11 p.m., and the raucous Nationals Park crowd showering them with adulation.
The Atlanta Falcons didn't have a pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
In a Washington Nationals season that is just 11 games old, Steve Lombardozzi spent nine of the first 10 getting antsy.