Game 123: Braves at Nationals

Mike Fiammetta here, helping out Bill Ladson on the blog. As always, check out Nationals.com for in-game updates.

After last night’s 13-inning marathon, it appeared everyone — at least on the Nationals’ side — was in fairly good spirits today. Davey Johnson took some time to yet again discuss Stephen Strasburg’s shutdown situation, though nothing’s really changed.

“I never really get that far out and think about those things, guys that have been here,” he said. “I get questions asked about next week that hack me off. So I’m not really thinking about next spring or this time next year.”

The next spring reference, of course, was a reference to the notion of how the Nats’ innings cap is preserving Strasburg for the future. Strasburg’s going against Braves left-hander Paul Maholm tonight, so it will be interesting to see how far he goes. He enters the day with 139 1/3 innings pitched.

“I won’t be thinking about limiting him in his last few starts,” Johnson said. “I’ll go with what I think I can get out of him. That’s it.”

As so much of the Internet blogosphere and Twittersphere gears up for relentless Strasburg debate down the stretch, Johnson also addressed the team’s reasons for not playing around with Strasburg’s schedule by having him take starts off or get extra days off in between.

“I have a little experience in dealing with pitchers and their workload and their scheduling,” Johnson said. “The one thing that would’ve been the most detrimental to his health — to any pitcher’s health — is if you vary from what starts from day one of spring training. You can’t put somebody, like, as a fifth starter and then skip time. That’s more dangerous for a young pitcher, not having regular work. Some of these guys don’t handle even extra days off; they’re too strong, they start jumping.

“So you want to make sure that’s consistent. And if there’s a shutdown date, there’s a shutdown date. There’s no way to solve that problem making sure that you don’t take further risks.”

–Steve Lombardozzi knocked a pinch-hit single on the first hit he saw with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. He was ultimately stranded there, but given how much adjusting Lombardozzi’s been forced into this year — from left fielder to second baseman and now a utility player — Johnson was impressed.

It’s really tough for a young player to know how take an approach to pinch-hitting. I’ve talked to a lot of the young guys about when you pinch-hit, you’re a little more aggressive, you look for a ball in the zone. You know that the pitcher’s in trouble, he doesn’t know you. A lot of times, it’s a tough situation, so you live for a ball in the zone and you try to hit it hard enough to hit a double. But you’re aggressive, and if you miss it, at least it’ll help your timing.”

“Lombo’s been impressive because he’s been adjusting to a very difficult role this year. Left fielder, second baseman, now he’s back to kind of a utility role.”

–Bill will have more on Strasburg in the notebook, as well as an update on Henry Rodriguez and more. Tonight’s lineups (Chipper Jones is out of the Braves’ starting lineup, though he is available off their bench):

Nationals (76-46)

  1. Jayson Werth RF
  2. Bryce Harper CF
  3. Ryan Zimmerman 3B
  4. Michael Morse LF
  5. Adam LaRoche 1B
  6. Ian Desmond SS
  7. Danny Espinosa 2B
  8. Jesus Flores C
  9. Stephen Strasburg RHP

Braves (70-52)

  1. Michael Bourn CF
  2. Martin Prado LF
  3. Jason Heyward RF
  4. Freddie Freeman 1B
  5. Dan Uggla 2B
  6. Brian McCann C
  7. Juan Francisco 3B
  8. Paul Janish SS
  9. Paul Maholm LHP

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