Johnson, Span and Monday’s ninth-inning bunt

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

With Anthony Rendon standing on first base and nobody out on Monday night against the Braves, manager Davey Johnson relayed a sign to Denard Span asking the center fielder to bunt for a hit.

The Nationals have two different signs for bunts: one to bunt for a sacrifice, the other to bunt for a hit. Span knew that this was a bunt for a hit.  And that confused him.

“Why would he give me the base-hit bunt?” Span said after the Nationals’ 3-2 loss. “It’s not surprising anybody.”

Sure enough, the Braves saw the play building and crashed toward the plate. Span put down the bunt and safely advanced the runner to second base, but he was easily thrown out at first by third baseman Chris Johnson. The play was scored as a sacrifice.

“It was one of those things where, when he gave it to me, it was kind of tough, because you know it’s a bunt situation and both sides are crashing,” Span said. “I wasn’t expecting to get a hit, because they already were way in on the grass.”

That out proved costly as Scott Hairston and Chad Tracy popped out in the next two at-bats to end the game. Johnson said he would’ve liked to see Span go all-out for the hit.

“He just decided to sacrifice,” Johnson said. “I would’ve rather seen him try to bunt and get on. That’s something he hasn’t done a lot of. But I didn’t want a straight sacrifice.”

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