Too much has probably already been made of the dugout shouting match between Gio Gonzalez and Jayson Werth, which reportedly started when Werth barked at the pitcher for not covering first on a potential double play in the first inning of last night's game.
When Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo and Nationals' manager Davey Johnson were asked about the argument in separate interviews on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. this morning, they were willing to talk about it and both said they saw the incident as a sign of life from a team that's not ready to give up on the 2013 campaign.
Werth declined to speak to the media after the Nationals' win over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night. Gio Gonzalez, who was dealing with back tightness during the start, declined to comment on the heated discussion, saying what happened was between himself and the Nats' right fielder and would stay that way.
"Jayson sometimes can get a little vocal," Davey Johnson explained when he talked to reporters after the win. "He thought that Gio was a little late covering first, and he was. But he falls toward third and with a bad back and falling toward third, you know, you get over there."
"Two guys fired up, trying to win baseball games," Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, "and having a friendly discussion that stays in the clubhouse or in the dugout or whatever it is. It's not the first time this year, it wasn't the first time last year. You go through this stuff periodically. Tempers are high. Guys want to win games and you've got two fired up athletes going at it and it really shows that these guys haven't packed things in. They care and they've taken it to another level. When they're in the zone, when they're competing like that, things are said in the heat of battle."
"I love the passion," Rizzo added. "I love the energy and I love the way that these guys still care and we're not going through the motions."
"It's accountability," the Nats' GM said. "Players keep each other accountable. And there's nothing better for a player than to be respected by his peers and you could be talked to by the general manager, the manager, the coaching staff and that type of thing, but when you're talked to by your peers and a fellow player that's in the trenches with you, it really means a lot. And like I said, I love the energy of the two players and the passion of the two players, and these are too of the most passionate players that we have on the ballclub and the interaction I think ended up on a positive note and got some energy from it and ended up winning the ballgame."
"It just shows everybody that we've got a pulse, and the guys care," Davey Johnson told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance on the show this morning. "Jayson was a little vocal. He was a little upset with Gio. He didn't cover first on a ball hit to first. In Gio's defense, he's got a bad back and when he releases the ball he falls toward the third base side... so, Jayson's right, but it's a tough play even when you're healthy."
"It was good," Johnson said of the discussion in the dugout. "I like it. A little electricity going on. It's fun."
As the 70-year-old skipper's visit with the Junkies ended, he was asked about the possibility of the Nationals making an improbable run and he talked about the run he went on with the Baltimore Orioles in 1996, the 1986 World Series with the New York Mets when they were on the verge of defeat and rallied back. "We had two outs, two runs down, one strike and it's over and we came back and won that game." He's not ready to give up on anything. "You never taking anything for granted in this game. It would be a losing attitude for you guys to think we're out of it. Because you're never out of it until the last dance."
The Nationals are on a four-game winning streak against two scuffling teams, but as the Nats' skipper mentioned, they have another series coming up with a team they've struggled against this season. "When we get down to Atlanta," Johnson said, "We've got some unfinished business to take care of down there."
There's some fight left in the Nats' skipper. Speaking of fights...
Before the interview ended, one of the Junkies jumped in.
"By the way, if they had a fight, Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez, we're all betting on Jayson," he said with a laugh.
"Good bet," the Nationals' manager said.