Davey Johnson discussed Denard Span's issues hitting left-handed pitching this season after the 29-year-old Washington Nationals' outfielder doubled off New York Mets' lefty reliever Josh Edgin in a 6-4 win late last month. "His history is he hits [lefties] equally as well [as right-handers]," Johnson said of Span, who had a .146/.222/.171 line against lefties after that double, has a .154/.222/.176 line vs LHP now and a .278/.358/.373 line vs LHP in his career.
Johnson wasn't singling Span out. A number of Nationals were struggling to produce at the plate, as he noted, and as he put it, "Everybody's been down on what they're capable of doing." But that doesn't mean he's going to ignore Span's struggles with left-handed pitching. Especially now that he has another option on his bench.
Scott Hairston, acquired from the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night/Monday morning is getting a start tonight in Citizens Bank Park in place of Span. Hairston's leading off and playing left with Bryce Harper shifting to center. Hard not to note the Nationals' contention this winter that the acquisition of Span allowed them to move Harper to corner where they felt he would eventually end up anyway after playing center for the majority of his rookie campaign. Hairston's career numbers against Philadelphia's starter, Cole Hamels, apparently made it an easy decision for the Nats' 70-year-old skipper.
Hairston's 12 for 30 with five doubles and five home runs off the Phillies' lefty in their respective careers, and Johnson told reporters before tonight's game that definitely factored into his decision to pencil the newest National into the starting lineup for the second game of four in Citizens Bank Park along with a desire to mess with the Phillies' starter's head:
Davey said he put Hairston at leadoff partly to get in Hamels' head. "Pitch around this guy. We've got guys who can hit behind him, too."— Amanda Comak (@acomak) July 9, 2013
The Nationals could use all the help they can get against left-handers, of course. Last night's loss to John Lannan and the Phillies left the Nats with a .215/.280/.336 line vs left-handed pitchers, good for 15th, 15th and 15th overall in the National League.
• Here's the rest of the starting lineup for tonight's game in Philadelphia:
Davey's Lineup, Tue. @ PHI/G90: Hairston lf, Desmond ss, Harper cf, Zimmerman 3b, Werth rf, LaRoche 1b, Rendon 2b, Suzuki c, Jordan rhp.— Vote #DesiIn13 (@NationalsPR) July 9, 2013