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The Nationals are last in the Major Leagues in offense, so manager Jim Riggleman decided to revamp the lineup before the team’s 2-1 victory over the Padres on Saturday.
Outfielder Jayson Werth hit leadoff, pitcher John Lannan hit eighth followed by left fielder Brian Bixler.
Only Bixler did anything worth talking about, going 2-for-2 with a walk. Werth and Lannan went a combined 0-for-6.
Shortstop Ian Desmond thought Riggleman made a great decision because the team needs to score runs.
“That’s a great idea. That’s unbelievable managing. Bixler plays nine innings, has a great game, runs the bases well,” Desmond said. “We have been looking for a leadoff hitter. If you take the contract away and just think about the baseball player, Jayson actually fits there pretty well. He is a smart base runner, he steals bases, he gets on base, he sees a lot of pitches. It’s nice to have him up there.”
Lannan didn’t know he was batting eighth until he arrived at the ballpark. Before the game, Lannan was hitless in 23 at-bats.
“It was different, but it worked,” he said. “At first, I just heard that Werth was leading off and then I found out I was batting eighth and I said, ‘OK, that’s different.’ But it worked out.”
The last time Werth hit leadoff was June 2, 2010 against the Braves. Before Saturday’s lineup was announced, the leadoff spot had been a disaster this season, hitting .209 with a .267 on-base percentage entering Saturday’s action.
“I feel comfortable hitting anywhere in the lineup,” Werth said before the game. “We need to freshen up the lineup with [Ryan Zimmerman] not being here. We try to mix it up a little bit and see if we can put up a bunch of crooked numbers. You are only leading off the first time.”
Werth most likely will lead off again against the Padres on Sunday, but Riggleman seemed to have doubts that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann would bat eighth. The Nationals will face right-hander Tim Stauffer.
“I’m not sure what we will do tomorrow. It’s different against the righty,” Riggleman said. “It will be a little different on how we will put it together. We are thinking ahead to getting Zim [Ryan Zimmerman] back next week. We’ll thinking about how we’ll put it together with him, too. I’m going to give it some thought tonight.”