June 20, 2012; Washington, D.C., USA; Washington Nationals pitcher Tyler Clippard (36) pitches in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park. The Nationals defeated the Rays 3 - 2. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Washington Nationals' closer Tyler Clippard recorded his 10th save in 10 opportunities last night in the Nats' 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Since taking over as the team's ninth-inning option, the 27-year-old, 2011 Nationals' All-Star rep has given up just one hit in 11.1 IP, walking five and striking out 14 as he's solved all the issues that Washington was dealing with when first Drew Storen (elbow surgery), then Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez were for one reason or another unable to shut things down in the ninth inning. Asked this afternoon, however, in an appearance on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. with Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, what would happen when Clippard's team-and-room-mate Drew Storen returned from the DL, the current-closer told the hosts it's not something that's been discussed yet either with the team or with one another.
"We're real good friends and we're pulling for each other at all times," Clippard said when asked if he'd had "the conversation" with Storen. "And there's really no need for it. We're kind of on the same page as far as we're professionals and we're on the Washington Nationals and we want to win ballgames and so the beauty of that is no matter who's closing the game we're all pulling for the same goal and I think we're comfortable in that and so, no there's no need for that [conversation], we're all on the same page for sure."
• Listen to 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier talk to Nats' closer Tyler Clippard:
Asked what that "page" was, Clippard said simply, "The page is whatever the Washington Nationals want to do we're okay with and we want to go out there and get an out, get three outs, whatever the case may be, whatever the inning is, it doesn't matter. We're trying to win ballgames."
It's not too surprising that the issue hasn't come up yet, at least publicly. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson has often joked with the media this season when impending roster decisions have come up, about how he'd deal with it when the situation arose rather than speculating about the moves beforehand whether or not the discussions have taken place behind the scenes.
Another roster question came up during this week's edition of 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Mike Rizzo Show, when the Nats' GM was asked by a caller what the Nationals would do to keep Steve "Game-Saving Diving Catch" Lombardozzi in the lineup once Jayson Werth returns to the Nationals' outfield. Does Lombo move to second? Danny Espinosa has continued to struggle against right-handers and Lombardozzi has continued to impress with a .297/.353/.383 line against RHP to Danny Espinosa's .188/.267/.298 line from the left side of the plate. Will there be a platoon at second base? Not likely, at least according to what the GM said.
"I think [Lombardozzi] is going to have to back to our original plan with Lombo," the Nationals' general manager explained, which was to, "... get him his 350 or so plate appearances in a utility role. It will be a great opportunity for Davey [Johnson] to give breaks in the lineup for several players cause Lombo can play at several different positions at any given time. Lombo will get his at bats. He'll be a super utility player when those guys get back and I think we'll be a better team for it."
Where do you stand? Does Storen, provided he returns to full health/strength, resume his duties as the Nationals' closer? When Werth returns do the Nationals go with Michael Morse in left, Bryce Harper in center and Werth in right with Lombo returning to the utility role and Espinosa continuing to start at second? Break up the Lombo/Harper 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup? Limit Lombo to spot starts? Any thoughts?