At about 4 this afternoon, the Nationals cleared the clubhouse and gathered at their lockers for a meeting called by Manager Davey Johnson. He hadn’t done this since a month ago exactly, the first day he took over as Nationals manager. He wanted to explain the changes he had made to the Nationals, and explain why they may become more frequent.
Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond, Wilson Ramos and Roger Bernadina are all out of today’s lineup. Johnson has been feeling lately that his everyday players have been getting mentally and physically tired, and he felt it gave the Nationals’ their best chance to win if some of his starters rested.
“I got to sitting down and making my lineup, and I said, ‘I’m just going to use most of my bench,’ which I’ve done numerous times in the past,” Johnson said. “You can call them Shock Troops, or whatever you want to call them.”
Johnson did not even tell Werth he had the day off before posting the lineup, he said, because he knew Werth would try to talk his way into the lineup. He flatly told Desmond, another player who wants to play every day, that he wasn’t playing.
Johnson felt comfortable using the majority of his bench today because he spent his first month developing a clear everyday lineup. He wanted his starters, especially his young players, to feel comfortable and assured that they were his regulars.
“I had some young players that I wanted to show them they were the guys early on, which normally you’d do out of spring,” Johnson said. “With a change in managers, guys can get nervous sometimes. I wanted basically those guys to know they were the guys for me, and the other guys were utility guys. I do like rest guys not just physically, but mentally resting them is more important. I haven’t done a very good job of that. I figured if I was going to do that, I might as well go all in. Push all my chips in.”
Johnson also feels the lineup gives him the best lineup. Alex Cora and Jerry Hairston, who are playing shortstop and left field today, both have strong histories against Marlins pitching. And in the past two games, the Nationals’ standard lineup has produced five hits and three runs.
“I’m getting them in because I thought we were underachieving, and we have been,” Johnson said. “It’s a little harder once you’re in the middle of something, rather then when you see it from conception, you can see how they’re going, oh he needs a little rest, he needs a little rest. You always want them to get the message that I have a good idea of who should be playing and who shouldn’t.”