Results tagged ‘ Davey Johnson ’

Nationals reflect on their time with Davey

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

Davey Johnson managed his last game for the Nationals on Sunday, ending (for now, anyways) a storied baseball career in which he played and managed more than 3,800 games. Here’s what some of his players had to say about their departing skipper:

Ian Desmond
“Davey obviously means a lot to all of us in here. He’s done a great job. He’s really brought out the best in us. Hopefully if one day I get the opportunity to manage, I can do it just like he does.”

Dan Haren
“He has so many accomplishments. I didn’t even think of the stuff that he had done and how long he’s been in the game. … I think I read an article a couple days ago and I think Werth said he’s the ultimate players manager. I think I played for six or seven managers and I would agree. The guy’s a class act. Very stand-up. Very honest with players, honest with the media, and it’ll be sad to see him move on to the next stage of his life but he definitely left a legacy that won’t be forgotten.”

“You really won’t hear anyone say anything bad about him. The guy, he’s so easy to talk to. I know his door’s always open but I just appreciate the fact that you can have a real man-to-man conversation with him and things don’t have to be about baseball. I think other organizations I’ve been with that hasn’t been the case. It’s been a real pleasure.”

Ian Krol
“He’s had a lot of confidence in me, which helps from my point of view when pitching. Also the way he’s handled the bullpen has been spectacular with guys on short rest, guys pitching every other day. He’s done a lot. Obviously it’s sad to see him go, and I haven’t been around long enough to know him as a person, but he’s just helped me learn so much in my career. This is my first year out of the bullpen, so being up here it definitely helps having someone who’s been around the game for God knows how long. It just helps having a veteran like that ease my way into the bullpen. I couldn’t say one bad thing about him. Just an awesome guy, great manager. I love playing behind him.”

“He just always comes around the clubhouse joking with guys, laughing, always talks about his golf game and how his back’s been hurting him. Other than that, he’s just an awesome person to be around. Always smiling, never really having anything bad to say, just a great person.”

Tyler Moore
“Davey’s been great. He’s a legendary manager and he gave me my first opportunity in the big leagues. He’s been my first manager, and I’ll always remember him for that. He’s just, I don’t know, he’s just got a way about him. He cares about the guys, you can tell. He’s pretty calm, he knows the game pretty well and it’s just a privilege for me to be in the same locker room as him.”

“He walks around, talks to all the guys, just makes a point to do that. I know a lot of managers don’t do that. Just his knowledge of winning and his knowledge of this game is pretty cool.”

Anthony Rendon
“We’d always joke about how he’s from San Antonio, he grew up over there, we always have little jabs at each other because I’m not too fond of San Antonio. I can’t say on record or whatever what it’s about, but we always just take little jabs at each other. Just a little inside joke, basically.”

“He was always out there being hands-on, showing me positioning [at second base] and what to expect, what to anticipate, just little things out there to help me get by. It’s worked a lot. Holding the runners on, that was a big thing.”

Denard Span
“For the short time that I’ve been here and been around him, just an unbelievable and great baseball mind. He’s seen it all and even this year, I would love to ask him questions about some of my favorite players growing up, just to hear some of the stories he would tell. It’s priceless.”

Drew Storen
“I think that’s really awesome that he can just come up and cut it up with you, just like any other player can. That’s one of those things where he’ll tell you like it is. And he’s pretty entertaining. That’s how he is. He keeps it loose, keeps it light, and I think that’s nice because he doesn’t really panic.”

“I would say the biggest thing I learned from him is just seeing how he acts, how he doesn’t panic. He just kind of goes with the flow and doesn’t get too caught up in stuff. That’s kind of his thing. And he trusts us as players. I think that’s something that’s really important and I really appreciated from him, putting trust in us. He’ll put us in a big spot and he’s not going to short hook somebody. The ability to go talk to him about anything is great, and you’re able to talk baseball with him and whatever — and also kind of hear some old stories every once in a while.”

Stephen Strasburg
“I think I’ve known Davey a little bit longer, especially going back to [the 2008 U.S. Olympic baseball team in] Beijing. The one thing about him is there’s no doubt that he’s going to fight for you and he’s going to be in your corner, no matter how bad it gets. I think he’s always positive and it really rubs off on a lot of guys, and I think that’s really helped us, even with all the struggles early on in the year, keep playing hard and start playing good baseball in September.”

20-20 (Part II): Ian Desmond joins elite company

By Andrew Simon

When Ian Desmond swiped second base in the seventh of Sunday’s nightcap against the Marlins, it gave him 20 stolen bases and his second consecutive season with at least 20 steals and 20 homers.

Considering that Desmond plays a prime defensive position at shortstop, that blend of power and speed is a rare commodity. Six other players have hit the 20-20 mark this year, and all of them are outfielders. Only three other infielders are anywhere close with a week left to go, but none of them are shortstops.

In fact, Desmond is now only the seventh shortstop in history with multiple 20-20 seasons, joining Hanley Ramirez (four), Jimmy Rollins (four), Alex Rodriguez (three), Derek Jeter (two), Barry Larkin (two) and Alan Trammell (two).

“He does it all,” said center fielder Denard Span, who is first-year teammates with Desmond. “I’m gonna be honest with you — has a strong arm, hits for power, hits for average. He’s the total package. I knew him for a few years before I got here but I never had a chance to watch him play up close and personal and he’s definitely the real deal.”

Span also praised the intelligence, work ethic and drive Desmond brings on a daily basis.

The 28-year-old has played in and started 153 of the Nats’ 156 games this year and on Monday will hit the 154-game plateau for the third time in his four full big league seasons. Manager Davey Johnson called him “Iron Man Desi,” on Saturday, when he brought him up as a worthy candidate for team MVP, alongside Jayson Werth.

Quality has matched quantity, too. Desmond’s .286/.338/.465 batting line with 20 homers gets him close to his numbers from a breakout 2012, and he already has set a career high with 80 RBIs. He also has accrued a career-best 5.1 wins above replacement (according to FanGraphs.com), thanks to solid contributions offensively, defensively and on the bases. That puts him second among MLB shortstops, behind only Troy Tulowitzki.

“Every day he’s ready to go, same intensity,” Span said. “He never looks tired, never looks frustrated or flustered. He’s always ready to go. He’s definitely a gamer.”

Two innings after Desmond reached 20-20, he took first on an intentional walk. With one out in the ninth inning of a tie game, he broke for second on the back end of a double steal and slid in safely for No. 21.

Clearly, he wasn’t satisfied.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s definitely a blessing,” he said of the accomplishment, which earned him an ovation from the crowd at the end of the inning. “I wasn’t always headed down this road in my life, and I’m just fortunate and try to take every day as a blessing and just try to do the best I can every day.”

Haren to Nats: “Keep this group together”

By Andrew Simon 

Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Marlins was Dan Haren’s final start of the season at Nationals Park. By his own admission, it probably was his last there, period, as a member of the Nationals.

Haren signed a one-year deal with Washington last offseason, and despite a second-half rebound, the overall results have been rocky. At 9-14 with a 4.87 ERA, the veteran right-hander admits, “I was part of the reason we were so many games down,” in the playoff race.

Yet even if Haren doesn’t return, he sees a bright future for the Nats — as long as they stay the course. In his opinion, the club shouldn’t take this year’s likely disappointing finish as a sign to make radical changes. He pointed to his last team, the Angels, who went 89-73 but missed the playoffs with Haren in 2012. An altered roster, including big free agent signing Josh Hamilton, was 76-78 going into Sunday.

“This area has a lot to look forward to,” Haren said. “I think last year in L.A., we won 89-90 games and they kind of blew up the team, and I think they’ve struggled most of the year and got on track late in the year. I think that was the wrong thing to do.

“I know there’ll be some subtle changes, me probably being one of them. But I think the most important thing is to keep this group together. This could be a building block. Last year they had a great year and this year we’ve shown a lot of fight here the last few months. I think as close as things could stay to the guys in this room, I think the better.”

That means keeping the roster largely intact. But, as Haren said, it’s also “top-down, manager-wise.”

The Nationals, of course, must find a replacement for the retiring Davey Johnson, who has voiced support for bench coach Randy Knorr, in addition to third base coach Trent Jewett. The organization also figures to consider outside candidates, but Haren thinks Knorr would be a good choice.

“Randy I think could step in and do a real good job,” Haren said. “I think the guys overall really like him. So it just kind of goes into the organization not really needing to do that much. We got off to a slow start, but I think we’ve learned a lot of things.”

[Updated] Strasburg scratched again

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

WASHINGTON — After Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Braves, Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced that Stephen Strasburg would miss his scheduled start Thursday against the Marlins. Gio Gonzalez will start Thursday, Jordan Zimmermann will start Friday and Strasburg will return Saturday, barring any further setbacks.

Strasburg was unexpectedly scratched from his previous start on Friday with right forearm tightness, which might have occurred when the right-hander was experimenting with a new pitch last Thursday in New York. The right-hander rested for two days, threw a “great” bullpen session on Monday and said Tuesday that he was prepared to start Thursday’s series-opener as planned.

However, Strasburg had trouble getting loose Wednesday afternoon and still felt some tightness.

“He felt a little something there [in the forearm] but he wanted to pitch,” Johnson said. “I said, ‘Well, no way. I got guys on full rest. I’ll pitch them and you can be in the lineup for Saturday.’ So it’s my decision.”

Strasburg described the feeling as a “strong cramp” that bothered him when he was warming up Wednesday afternoon. He felt the tightness and took a break, moving his hand and squeezing it a bit. Then the feeling dissipated and he returned to the field and felt fine.

“I don’t really know why it’s happening,” Strasburg said. “When it happens, it happens. It’s like a strong cramp, so I just think I would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it. We’d definitely be down some pitchers.”

Johnson said last week that Strasburg’s injury is not related to the surgically-repaired ligament in the right-hander’s elbow. Strasburg was examined by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, who assured him that the arm is structurally sound.

“I wouldn’t say I’m too concerned because when I get nice and loose it feels 100 percent. The tough thing is getting loose,” Strasburg said. “I think it’s just part of it being September and that’s pretty much it.”

Johnson said that Strasburg wanted to pitch Thursday, but the skipper ultimately decided to hold him back as a precaution.

“It’s just not worth the risks,” Johnson said. “He wanted to go tomorrow, I said no.”

[Updated] Left hip issue sidelines Harper two games

NEW YORK — Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will miss the next two games against the Mets because of inflammation in his left hip, manager Davey Johnson said Monday.

After Saturday’s victory over the Marlins, Harper went back to Washington to get his hip checked out by the team doctors. Harper has had issues with the hip dating back to last Monday, when Johnson noticed that training assistant John Hsu was working on Harper. At the time, the trainers were treating it as if he had a sprained hip. Since then, Harper has missed three of the past five games.

It is currently unknown how Harper injured himself. With him out of action, Tyler Moore received the start in left field on Monday.

Harper has endured an injury-plagued 2013 season. He missed more than a month of action after banging his left knee into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium on May 12.

Entering Monday, Harper was hitting .273 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs. According to Johnson, Harper is expected to rejoin the team before Tuesday’s game. There isn’t any talk about shutting Harper down for the season.

“All the tests, the MRI and all that didn’t reveal any structural damage. There is just some inflammation in there. If you take care of that, he is good to go,”  Johnson said. “He has been playing. There are times where it has acted up, other times it hasn’t. [The doctors] don’t know what caused it.”

Harper dealing with hip injury

PHILADELPHIA — After Sunday’s 6-5 victory over the Mets,  Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper declined to say what was ailing him. But after Monday’s  3-2 loss to the Phillies, manager Davey Johnson revealed that Harper was dealing with a hip injury.

The skipper was upset that he wasn’t informed about Harper getting treatment on the hip until right before the game. But Harper told teammates such as Jayson Werth that he could play.

“I was really disturbed I wasn’t informed that he was having some treatment on his hip,” Johnson said. “But every time someone talks to Harp, he said, ‘I’m fine.’”

Harper, who was running the bases gingerly during Monday’s game, had a single and walk against the Phillies.

Johnson said he believes Harper will start Tuesday night against the Phillies.

Harper wouldn’t say much about his injury. He plans on playing as many games as he can before the season comes to an end.

“We have a month left . I’m going to play as hard as I can. I’ll worry about [the hip] in the end,” Harper said. “If I was hurting I would come out of the game. I feel good.”

It has not been an injury free season for Harper. He missed more than a month because of a left knee injury after banging into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13th.

Knorr would like to be manager of Nats

PHILADELPHIA — With Davey Johnson retiring at the end of the 2013 season, bench coach Randy Knorr said Monday he would like to be considered as the next manager of the Nationals.

“I would like [the Nationals] to consider me. But I know [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] has a bunch of people in mind, also,” Knorr said. “It would be an honor to be considered for that job. … I try not to think too far ahead. I like to take things day by day.”

Knorr is more than qualified for the job. Of current players on the Major League roster, Knorr managed 11 of them, including Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg, in the Minor Leagues.

In 2008, while managing Class A Potomac, Knorr guided the team to the Carolina League championship.

Knorr is also not afraid to speak his mind. While filling in for Johnson last Friday, Knorr called outfielder Bryce Harper out for not hustling against the Mets. In a game against the Pirates on July 26, Knorr quickly yanked Rafael Soriano out of the game in the ninth inning as he struggled with command.

“I think it’s very important to speak your mind,” Knorr said. “Your players will never be in the dark in what you believe in. I don’t have secrets with my players. They asked me a question, I’ll be as honest as I can with them. You have a better relationship with them. They are not always trying to figure you out. … They know where you are coming from, they have no problems with it.”

Harper: ‘I could care less what people think’

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

Bryce Harper is a No. 1 Draft pick, National League Rookie of the Year and All-Star Game starter. He’s also 20 years old. He’s still growing up.

Sunday capped an eventful three-game series for the Nationals’ wunderkind. On Friday, he drew criticism from bench coach Randy Knorr for not running out a ground ball at a pivotal stage of the game. On Saturday, he was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple in a blowout. And on Sunday, he dropped a sacrifice bunt that helped fuel a three-run rally in the eighth inning.

Harper showed maturity in more than one way Sunday. Facing a tough lefty in Scott Rice, the 20-year-old laid down a bunt with two runners on and nobody out, a team-first move, instead of trying to be the hero with one swing of the bat.

“In the moment, baseball players play baseball,” said Jayson Werth, who drove in the winning run, “and that’s what he was doing right there.”

Manager Davey Johnson said that he did not give Harper the sign for a sacrifice bunt. He did it on his own.

“As tough times as we’ve had with hitting with runners in scoring position,” Johnson said, “putting the tying run down there ain’t a bad idea.”

Harper also showed growth after the game. When asked about the potential backlash the Nationals would have received with a sweep, he said he could care less.

“Screw what people think,” he said. “Everybody talks about us all year long saying we’re not going to make this or do that. I could care less what they think. It’s all what we think. I could really care less what the media thinks or anybody else. It’s nice to get that W tonight and, like I said, I could care less what people think.”

Harper was seen limping earlier in the game and said that while his previously-injured left knee was fine, “some other things [are] hurting me.” He declined to elaborate. Whether the injury affected his decision to bunt is unclear.

Injury aside, the decision to put the team before potential glory was a good one. It was an important one, too, both within the context of the game and outside of it.  Harper was able to put the national headlines of his jog to first and the ESPN television cameras at Sunday’s game behind him and just play baseball. And for a 20-year-old phenom, that’s sometimes the toughest thing to do.

After Braves’ sweep, Nats’ pressure lifted

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

The Nationals entered 2013 with legitimate World Series aspirations, as well as the enormous pressure that comes with them.

With each loss, that pressure grew. The Nats pressed. The pressure grew. The season snowballed to the point of potential failure, a three-game series against the Braves last week. The pressure bottlenecked at that series, and when the Nationals were swept by Atlanta, extinguishing any hopes of a second straight National League East title, that pressure vanished.

The Nationals have won five straight since.

“Maybe we just said, ‘Screw it,’” Jayson Werth said. “We just got our [butts] kicked. What do we got to lose? It was definitely a flip that was switched. Hopefully it was the right one.”

After every brief winning streak this season, players were asked if this would be the streak to ignite their season. And after every ugly loss, they were asked if they had finally hit rock bottom. Tyler Clippard said that being swept by the Braves was finally it.

“This game, it kind of beats you down so bad at times that I feel like we hit rock bottom and we’re like, ‘All right, let’s just go out there and play and not worry about what’s going on and who is winning what games and focus on ourselves,’” he said. “Unfortunately we did lose three to the Braves, but it let us take a step back and be like, ‘All right guys, let’s just play baseball and see what happens.’ And that’s what we’re doing right now and it’s a lot more fun that way, these last five games.”

Manager Davey Johnson always says that baseball is 90 percent mental. Early in the season, he tried to build confidence in his bench and bullpen by using struggling players in important situations. He has shuffled the lineup to help hitters find a mental comfort zone. But when asked Wednesday if this winning streak was the result of lifted pressure, Johnson said the Nationals are simply playing better baseball.

“Throughout the lineup we’re swinging the bats better,” Johnson said. “Water seeks its level and sooner or later everybodys going to start getting hits with runners in scoring position. We’ve got too good of talent.”

Ramos’ hamstring strain not as bad as feared

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

WASHINGTON — After injuring his left hamstring for the third time this season on Tuesday night, Wilson Ramos was all smiles in the Nationals’ clubhouse on Wednesday. The strain was not as serious as the team feared, and Ramos said that he will only miss one or two games before returning to the lineup.

“[I’m] a little bit happy because it’s not too hurt,” Ramos said. “I felt a little bit yesterday sore in my hamstring but it’s not in the big part of the hamstring. It’s down in the hamstring, a little bit behind the knee.”

Ramos said that he felt the muscle tighten as soon as he left the batter’s box after hitting a ground ball in the fourth inning, but he knew right away that the strain wasn’t as bad as his previous tweaks. The 26-year-old said last month that he would not run full-speed on routine grounders, but when the ball deflected off pitcher Madison Bumgarner’s mitt, Ramos thought he could beat the throw to first.

“Next time for me, easy out,” Ramos said. “I’m not going to try to do too much, not anymore.”

Manager Davey Johnson said that is easier said than done.

“That’s easy to say, but as soon as you hits one where he thinks he’s got an infield hit, he’s going to go hard. That’s just human nature,” Johnson said. “I think it’s that first move coming out [of the batter’s box] that you’ve got to be careful with. Because you twist and then you’re jumping back.”

Ramos exited Tuesday’s game after the fourth inning, when the game was delayed for more than a hour because of rain. Had it not started raining, Ramos said that he likely would have tried to stay in the game.

“Thank God it was raining,” he said. “He took me out of the game.”

Ramos was left out of Wednesday’s lineup but could return on Thursday or Friday, when the team opens a three-game series in Atlanta. Johnson said that he wanted to see Ramos go through his normal pre-game routines before determining how many games the catcher would miss.

Despite Johnson’s concerns, Ramos said that he hopes to resume starting every day when he returns to the lineup. He said that the regularity has helped him get in a rhythm, both at the plate and behind it.

“I feel comfortable when I play every day,” Ramos said. “I feel strong, more consistent behind the plate or hitting. I saw the difference in this month. I threw a couple runners out. My arm feels good. I feel good behind the plate, calling games. I’m hitting well. I can see the difference when I play every day than every other day. That’s good for me. And hopefully I’ll be ready in two or three more days and then go keep playing like that.”

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