At 3:40 this afternoon, Manager Jim Riggleman and hitting coach Rick Eckstein called every hitter present in the clubhouse into Riggleman’s office. They closed the door. Riggleman and Eckstein spoke first, and a few players followed. The dozen or so men stayed in the room for 35 minutes, pouring out at 4:15 p.m., past that days’ lineup card, which displayed why the meeting intended to relax and spark the Nationals’ hitters may not have been well-timed.
“Usually,” Riggleman said, “you like to have those meetings when you’re facing an emergency starter or something. There’s no magic to facing Roy.”
That would be Roy Halladay, the most dominant pitcher in baseball, the right-hander who has allowed the Nationals two earned runs in the last 31 innings against the Nationals. Still, with some players showing signs of frustration, Riggleman wanted to remind his players to keep plugging, and not to allow their offensive struggles to hinder the rest of their game. Every hitter went except Adam LaRoche and Laynce Nix, who arrived at about 4 p.m. (It should be noted that it’s standard for players to arrive around then, and that the meeting seemed impromptu. The impression that those players skipped a scheduled meeting would be wrong.)
“We just wanted to get all of hitters together and get with Rick and myself and let them know the confidence level we have in them, just keep pushing, doing all the little things that we do defensively, running the bases, all that kind of stuff,” Riggleman said. “Let’s get it going offensively, but in the meantime, let’s go win a ballgame. I’m very proud of the way our players have done through some struggles offensively. We’ve played hard and played efficient baseball.”
One player said the meeting was “all positive. That’s all I can tell you.” Riggleman decided to call the meeting this afternoon, and he started it after having a discussion with Jayson Werth and Eckstein separately from the other players.
“I just felt that a couple guys are just feeling like, ‘We’re not hitting. We’re not scoring as many runs as we’d like to. We’re done in ballgames a couple times here against the Phillies,’ ” Riggleman said. “I just reminded them how much I appreciate they’re getting after it, and it’s going to turn around for us.
“These things generally are something that you get a feel you need to speak and let them know how much we’re in their corner still. Just felt like the time to do it.”
We’ll see how it works against Halladay. Meanwhile, John Lannan will be looking for his win against the Phillies, a nemesis like no other for him. In 12 starts against the Phillies, Lannan is 0-9 with a 5.80 ERA.
As always, talk about the game right here.