Thursday, May 10, 2012

Johnson tries to boost spirits with meeting

US Presswire photo
Davey Johnson gathered his players for a team meeting this afternoon.
PITTSBURGH -- Sensing some of his players were starting to press in an attempt to snap out of their offensive funk, Nationals manager Davey Johnson closed the doors of the visiting clubhouse at PNC Park this afternoon and tried to boost spirits with something of a pep-talk.

The meeting lasted less than 10 minutes, but Johnson's message was clear.

"I wanted to let them know that I'm behind them 100 percent," he said. "I know we're going to get better as the season goes on. And I appreciate the effort they've given so far. ... I wanted to put them at ease that I have confidence in everyone on this ballclub, or else they wouldn't be here. I expect us to get it right."

The Nationals enter tonight's game against the Pirates on a three-game losing streak, having struck out 23 times in the first two games of this series. Several players, Johnson believes, look like they're trying to do too much, perhaps overcompensating for the losses of Michael Morse and Jayson Werth to injuries.

"They try to hit the ball too hard," the manager said. "They try to make up for the lack of power we have in the lineup. And I don't want that. We're not that kind of ballclub. Everybody's different. But all of the guys have the capability to be a good hitter."

Johnson sought not only to show confidence in his players through his words but also his actions. Thus, his lineup for this series finale isn't altered much from previous nights. Bryce Harper was bumped down to the fifth spot in order to provide some protection for cleanup hitter Adam LaRoche. But slumping second baseman Danny Espinosa (who leads the NL with 39 strikeouts) remains in the lineup and hitting sixth.

Johnson did meet individually with Espinosa this afternoon and offered him a chance to take the night off, with rookie Steve Lombardozzi filling his spot. The .189-hitting second baseman said he wanted to play.

"The most important guy right now in this lineup is Danny Espinosa," Johnson said. "And I had a conversation with him today about: 'Let me rest you. Lombo would certainly enjoy the opportunity to go out there and play second base.' But he said: 'I feel better. I've been a little confused.' I had a great conversation with him and I said nothing more than I'll give you every opportunity to do the things you're capable of, because we need you. Ergo, he's in the lineup."

Johnson reiterated a point he made Wednesday: He doesn't want players believing their jobs are on the line every time they step to the plate or take the mound. He also doesn't succumb to outside pressure calling for change.

"I wanted to let them know that I don't manage by audition, and I don't panic and I don't take a lot of advice from people that don't know a whole lot," he said. "I do read blogs and Tweeter and fans and the newspaper and also on the internet. I'm not immune to it, and I know these guys do it 100 times more than me.

"I'm not saying there's not always some good advice in there. But you're dealing with people that have feelings and you're also dealing with people that have a lot of pride. And also I want to be consistent with opportunities. The more you play, the more opportunities you get. It's kind of simple with me. One day doesn't necessarily make a winning streak. And a couple 0-fers doesn't necessarily mean a slump."


MicheleS said...

Davey, if your are reading this (since you read the blogs/tweeter/internet)

Here is my lineup suggestions

Desi SS
Lombo 2B
Harper RF
Ankiel CF
Tracey/Nady/Bernadina LF
Ramos/Flores C
If you want Espi In the lineup:
Desi SS
Lombo LF
Harper RF
Ankiel CF
Espinosa 2b (I think he did well last year at the bottom of the order)
Ramos/Flores C
(Oh and Stammen/Burnett can close as well, I am running out of Maalox)


PS.. we are still in first place...

SCNatsFan said...

Yeah but o-fer a season like Espi has had since the break last year does mean a slump.

I like Davey but there is no way he can be that blind. I'm sure some of it is just sticking up for your player but c'mon, this isn't a coule of o-fers. And votes of confidence haven't changed anyting yet.

Prove me wrong Espi. Prove you belong on the big club. I'd love to be wrong.

sm13 said...

Interesting contrast between Davey trying to calm the guys down and making sure they know he has their back and Charlie Manuel calling out his guys in public and chewing them out in the locker room. I know I prefer DJ's approach, but we'll see which one works.

JZimm's only fan... said...

"Hey Danny you're hitting .189" DJ
"I know coach" ESPI
"How about you take a night off not because your backup is a .300 hitter or anything.." DJ
"Don't feel like it, im good" ESPI
"Issue settled with me, go get 'em then" DJ

I imagine the conversation went exactly like this.

MicheleS said...

JZ Fan.. I am imagine it went like this.

Son, your in the line up tonight. Get out there and play!

rogieshan said...

Well said, SCNatsFan. I give credit to Johnson for finally addressing the issue with Espinosa, but I'm not sure about letting a sophomore dictates if he sits or play is necessarily the right move.

JZimm's only fan... said...

Whatever he said lets hope it works

jeffwx said...

Resistance is futile, Espi plays, It's DJ's bullpen, yada, yada...

Sorry Peric about the name that cannot be mentioned.
Why do I get angry reading a blog...Need to up the meds or the maalox for sure.

jeffwx said...

Well...i know nothing...Nice hit Danny...the team is a bit more patient.
Davey, all we want is a winning team

peric said...

Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson: STAY THE COURSE its all going in the right direction. If you change your approach I fear this team will end up with yet another in a long litany of frustrating seasons. Keep developing and using the prospects its the right way to go.

NatsNut said...

Mark, you have to talk about how great our starting pitchers are hitting. We have to have some kind of record. Those guys are practically raking.

natsfan1a said...

Davey said he read blogs, but he didn't say he read comments. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. :-)

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