Frank Robinson has yelled at the Washington Nationals after a loss. He has met with his entire team behind closed doors. He has vented at them in the media. Now, with the team struggling to come through in clutch situations, the manager wouldn't mind if the players went after each other.
"I think it's time for one of the offensive guys to say something," Robinson said. "There's no sense in a pitcher [doing it], because they're going to be hollering at somebody that's down. . . . I just think it's time for the guys that are in the trenches together, the offensive players, to step up and try to get the attention of the rest of the team."
Since the all-star break, the Nationals had scored three or fewer runs 18 times in 34 games prior to Saturday night. The hitters, Robinson feels, too frequently have failed to bail out the pitchers. Friday night's 1-0 loss to the Mets was a perfect example. The Nationals twice failed to score a runner from third with less than two outs.
John Patterson, who lost that game despite pitching seven effective innings, was asked afterward if the pitching staff is close to cracking.
"It wouldn't do us any good if we did," he said. "I think that shows you the type of pitching staff this is, guys with a lot of heart, a lot of competitiveness. . . . We go out there, and we will compete with you every out of every inning."
Wilkerson's Slumping Bat
Leadoff man Brad Wilkerson, a key cog in years past, has stumbled. A 1-for-21 stretch had dropped his average to .246. "He's not getting anything going for us," Robinson said.
Both the manager and hitting coach Tom McCraw believe Wilkerson's various injuries -- particularly a problem in his right forearm and a strained left shoulder -- have hindered production. Still, they expected more from a player who, two years ago, hit .268 with 19 homers and 77 RBI. This year, he has eight homers and 44 RBI.
McCraw said he wants Wilkerson, who has 125 strikeouts and 108 hits, to be more aggressive: "It's very difficult for any man to be successful with one swing per at-bat in the major leagues."