Davey Johnson: Nats are better than Phillies

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

(Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

The MLB standings say the Nats are 34-36, tied with the Phillies, and ahead of just five National League teams. But Davey Johnson will not be cowed by those standings.

“Boys, it could be such a great a year,” he told the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday morning. (Audio here.) “I mean, we’re right in position. All we have to do is do the things we’re capable of, and we’ll still win our division.”

As for Tuesday night’s loss to the Phillies? Not cowed by that, either.

“These guys like to beat us maybe as much as we like to beat them,” Johnson said of the Phillies. “But I hate to lose in this ballpark, boy, I hate to lose to the Phillies. You know, they’ve always been a great team, but we’re a better team. We need to beat these guys.”

Johnson’s voice sounded a bit subdued throughout his weekly appearance, but his words remained defiant, as when he talked about wishing his players would be more aggressive at the plate.

“I think guys look at sequences — in, out, in and out — and then they start guessing, instead of going up there and looking for something hard,” he said. “I think with all this high-tech stuff, videos and all that stuff, I’ve got guys — regulars even — during the game going in to look at the video, you know? I think it’s way too much. I mean, you shouldn’t even have to look at the video during the game. You can’t think about too much. You just need to keep it simple boys. Go hacking.”

And he again backed Dan Haren, when asked if he’s thought about moving on from the Nats’ struggling starter.

“I mean, he’s not doing the things he’s capable of doing on a consistent basis, but he’s certainly capable,” Johnson said. “I could bench a lot of guys for not doing the things I think they’re capable of doing. And he’s our best alternate. I mean, that’s it….Everybody’s always pushing the panic button, and I’m the one that’s always in panic. Listen, Haren, he’s pitched some great games against some good hitting ballclubs, and he’s capable of getting on a roll. So I’m not worried about him.”

As for Ian Desmond’s recent assertion that the Nats are suffering from too much pressure, Johnson seemed to think it was possible.

“You know, a lot of times that’s just a lot of young guys, they feel a lot of pressure, they feel like this is their opportunity to do some things,” Johnson said. “And so there’s a little more tension on them, and that kind of filters around the ballclub. But that’s normal. That’s a normal pulse of the team. I think the big key for us is really the middle of our lineup’s got to start really stepping forth, and they’re certainly capable. I’m talking about Zim, Werth and LaRoche. They’re not doing the things we know they’re capable of. They can lead by example. I think the other guys are gonna be doing all right…

“I think [Zimmerman will] be fine. He’s streaky. Unfortunately he’s not really in a good streak, he’s not  in a bad streak….[Denard Span] certainly has the ability. His lifetime [OBP] is up around .350. He’ll be fine. He’s a gamer.

“About everything you can think of really has not been going the way it should go….I could do things better. Maybe I could be more positive. Something. We just need something to get us going. Maybe Desi had his finger right on it: we’re just a little too uptight.”

And Johnson, of course, wasn’t above joking about the current predicament, as when he was asked about his eating preferences on the road.

“Usually I go out and try to find a cheap diner,” he said. “The way we’re playing, I don’t want to spend too much money. You know, I’m spending all that World Series money. I’m kind of cutting back right now.”

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