The Nationals pride themselves in having a deep roster, one that can survive an injury to a starter for short or long stretches of time. Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore filled in for sick Bryce Harper and Denard Span in the series against the Marlins. While two starters battled injury this week, Kurt Suzuki and Steve Lombardozzi, played in their place, provided a lift.
Lombardozzi, who played for Danny Espinosa as he nursed a sore wrist, went 6 for 14 with four RBI this series. Since Ramos was yanked late from Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, Suzuki has started all three games, caught every inning, guided the pitching staff and performed at the plate. The Nationals’ depth and talent, in particular with their catchers, has been one of their most positive developments of the young season.
“Suzuki’s been outstanding,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “He did a heck of a job during the pennant race last year and he’s always working hard, handles the pitching staff great. He can get beat up and he still keeps coming. He’s great.”
Suzuki had started all three games in the series and he will continue to play every day behind the plate, much like he did late season. He wants to play every day and, as he has said, doesn’t need Johnson to ask if he feels fine every morning because he will be ready. Against the Marlins, he went 4 for 9 with a double, triple, home run, scored three runs and drove in two. He went 2 for 3 on Wednesday with a home run and triple, his first since Sept. 27, 2010. Overall, he is hitting 9 for 25.
“It’s definitely nice,” Suzuki said. “Everybody wants to play every day. At the same time, I’ve become pretty good friends with Wilson. To see how hard he’s working, to see what had happened to him, such a freak thing, it sucks. We need everybody. Wilson is a special player. He’ll make this team better. We need everybody to contribute.”
So far, Nationals catchers are hitting a combined .333 (third best in the majors) and posted a 1.158 OPS (first). Last season, the catchers combined to hit .237 (15th best) and post a .659 OPS (23rd). Although it’s a small size 15 games into the season, the Nationals have better talent this season and we able to use both Ramos and Suzuki by alternating them.
Ramos was off to a great start (6 for 20 with two home runs) as he rebounded from a major knee injury. Now, while Ramos is on the disabled list and in Washington rehabbing his leg, Suzuki moved seamlessly into his every day role and the team has benefited.
FROM THE POST
In the third week of the season, Ross Detwiler may be the surest thing on the Nationals roster, guiding them to a 6-1 win with a seven-inning performance on Wednesday. Bryce Harper went 4 for 5 while still fighting the flu.
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
NATS MINOR LEAGUES
Buffalo 5, Syracuse 4: Mike Constanzo, Jimmy Van Ostrand, Zach Walters and Carlos Rivero each smacked two hits. Ryan Tatusko made his first start of the season and fired three innings, allowing three runs on four hits. Fernando Abad fired a scoreless inning and hasn’t allowed a run in five appearances. Michael Crotta took the loss by allowing one run over the final two innings.
Potomac 4, Salem 2: Jason Martinson and Adrian Sanchez each went 2 for 4. Sanchez drove in two runs and Cole Leonida hit a solo home run. Taylor Jordan started and tossed seven strong innings, allowing two runs, both unearned, on six hits and struck out five. Tyler Herron notched a two-inning save.
Hagerstown 3, Lakewood 1: Tony Renda and Wander Ramos each went 2 for 4, with Ramos driving in two runs. Brett Mooneyham left after 4 1/3 no-hit innings with discomfort in his arm, according to our minor league whiz Lacy Lusk. Brian Rauh allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings in his absence.