With Anthony Rendon out of the lineup for a second straight game after the Washington Nationals had talked about playing their top prospect every day while he was with the major league team, reporters asked Nats' skipper Davey Johnson in the pregame press conference tonight if he had any concerns about having the 22-year-old infielder sit instead of getting regular at bats while Steve Lombardozzi played third in place of the DL'd Ryan Zimmerman? "There [are] 25 guys," Johnson said, "I've got 25 guys and I really like Anthony -- Anthony knows that -- but Lombo's been playing good and it's a little more difficult when I'm looking for somebody in the lineup to set the table and he's not in that category."
In spite of his history of having a high OBP throughout college and early in his pro career, Johnson said the infielder doesn't fit that role. "Nothing against [Rendon's] ability," the Nats' skipper said, "But I'm trying to create a lineup that can kind of feed of itself. I'm going day-by-day, I don't like to change a winner and nothing against Anthony Rendon, he's a heck of a player, he's going to have a heck of a career, but we're in the here and now and I'm worried about 25 guys not -- I worry about every one of them, but he'll get back in there. But it served its purpose the other day."
The lineup that takes on the Reds tonight is the same one that put up eight runs on twelve hits last night in the Nationals' 8-1 win so Johnson said he wasn't looking to change things tonight. "I think I'm smart," Johnson joked, "But I ain't that smart." The Nationals' manager also said Lombardozzi and fellow bench player Tyler Moore proved their worth last year and earned the opportunity. "Last year, when we had all the injuries, [Lombardozzi] and Tyler were big keys to keeping us in there and that outweighs the need to play a youngster."
Lombardozzi had a .273/.317/.354 line with 16 doubles, three triples and three home runs in 126 games and 416 plate appearances for the 2012 NL East champs. Moore had .263/.327/.513 line with nine doubles and 10 HRs in 75 games and 171 PAs.
"I don't necessarily like having a youngster sitting on the bench," Johnson admitted, "And [having] him come in the game late or pinch hit, but I think we're better served as a group having [Lombardozzi] in there."
• Nats' Lineup vs Reds in Game 2 of 4 with Cincinnati in DC:
#Nationals lineup vs. CIN: Span 8, Lombo 5, Harper 7, Werth 9, LaRoche 3, Desmond 6, Espinosa 4, Suzuki 2, Zimmermann 1— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) April 26, 2013