Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker, and any manager in the majors really, will occasionally send out what’s referred to as a “Sunday lineup” on the last day of a series, getaway day, or an actual Sunday afternoon, day game after a night game, whatever.
It’s something of an insult to the players who get out there to fill in for injured players or give the every day regulars a rest, of course, and as Baker told reporters this week, he doesn’t really think he loses a lot when he uses his bench players.
“My [bench] is a [weapon] every year,” Baker explained, “... cause I play everybody and I tell them, ‘Hey, man, if you’re going to be on my team, you’re going to play, and if you can’t play then you don’t need to be on the team.’
“I’ll try to give you enough at bats to keep you effective and your timing, so it’s a team game and we’re a team, so I try to use that.”
“Sometimes it may appear that you’re giving away a game or so,” the veteran of 22 major league seasons on the bench continued, “but we’re not giving away anything.
“We’re trying to gain some other ground by having these guys healthy and in good frame of minds.”
Wednesday afternoon in Miami, Baker sent a mixed bag out against the Marlins, with Brian Goodwin, who’s filled in admirably with Jayson Werth on the DL, in center, Adam Lind manning first base in place of Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Drew starting at second while Daniel Murphy sat, and Ryan Raburn in left after Michael A. Taylor was scratched an hour before the start of the series finale after he was initially penciled in.
[ed. note - “Baker wouldn’t say what’s wrong with Taylor for some reason, telling a reporter who asked, ‘I can’t tell you.’”]
Goodwin came into the finale in Miami in the midst of a strong stretch this month, 14 for 51 (.275/.333/.608) with three doubles and four home runs in 17 games, 12 starts.
Lind started the day with a .348/.415/.620 line, seven doubles and six home runs in just 44 games and 106 plate appearances.
Drew, who missed significant time with a hamstring injury early this season, was 12 for 28 in June before this afternoon’s game, (.429/.433/.643 line) with three doubles and a home run in 13 games and 30 PAs, leaving him with a .348/.373/.500 line in 51 PAs in 2017.
Raburn, acquired from the Chicago White Sox in late May, was 8 for 28 (.286/.286/.357) since he was called up.
His second hit of the day this afternoon was his first home run in a Nationals uniform.
Raburn took a 1-0 change from Dan Straily to left for a solo shot in the fifth, putting the Nats up 1-0 with a towering blast.
It was the only run the Nationals scored in a 2-1 loss, however, as Max Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the eighth before giving up a hit, and then the lead.
Lind was charged with an error as part of the Marlins’ eighth inning rally.
Baker was asked after the game if he considered making any defensive substitutions late or if getting Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy full days off in the series finale was the bigger concern.
“Lind is one of our hottest bats and his at bat was coming up again in the ninth,” he said.
“You know, and so, we wanted to — I mean ordinarily in a game like that you’d put your defense in, but when you’ve got another big bat coming up in the ninth then you don’t want to take that bat out of the lineup.”
While he didn’t go into detail, he did say that Michael A. Taylor was unavailable.
“He’s a little sore,” Baker explained.
“He wasn’t available, that’s why I couldn’t pinch hit for any of my outfielders, because I didn’t have anybody to put out there, and that’s what happens when you’re playing with a four-man bench and one of them is your catcher, so we have to address that as well.”