Circumstances seem to be falling the Nationals’ way this season. Those circumstances usually take the form of injuries to players.
Injuries befell every baseball team, every year, and usually it means a tailspin that good teams figure out a way to recover If a team has depth on its roster, the downward spiral can be avoided.
This season, the Nationals have found a way to get through injuries that would disrupt most team’s rhythm.
The Nationals watched as first baseman Adam LaRoche and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman went down with injuries. Michael Morse, who had played all of nine games at first base in 2010, steps in and gets hot and the Nationals roll.
Zimmerman suffers an abdominal injury and misses 58 games. Jerry Hairston Jr., becomes crucial and sees his playing time increase and he delivers with clutch hits and stingy defense.
Laynce Nix gets more playing time in left field when Morse struggles early and injuries force him to move to the infield. He answers with big home runs and timely plays, again securing the corner outfield spot defensively.
Roger Bernadina is called up to replace an injured Rick Ankiel and makes one of the signature catches of the season in center field. Nix makes a parallel catch in left field to show the Nationals have plus-plus defenders in their system and on their bench.
Bernadina continues to hit and alternates between the first or second spots in the batting order with out missing a beat at the plate. He still needs to be more consistent, but it is a good start.
Wilson Ramos goes from splitting time with future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez to playing four out of five games. Ramos blasts a walk-off homer during the last home stand to show the potential of his bat goes nicely with his ability to call games. If he can improve his defense on throws to home, Ramos will be close to the full package.
And then the bizarre happens Thursday.
In the midst of his team winning 11 of their last 12 games, Jim Riggleman steps down as manager of the ballclub. Mike Rizzo moves quickly and tabs veteran skipper Davey Johnson to lead the Nationals for the final 84 regular season games.
Johnson said his knowledge and experience within the organization helps him take over as manager today with a better understanding of where the Nationals are going.
“I have been all through the minor league system and they have great coaches,” Johnson said. “The talent level with the last two drafts I have been a part of has been outstanding.
“The talent level is coming. It is showing its value here on the major league level for the first time in a long time. Just to have the honor to be a part of it is exciting to me.”
It stands to reason that with the knowledge, enthusiasm and winning pedigree that Johnson brings to the dugout steps will only be a positive for a team that already is playing the best baseball the franchise has seen in six seasons.
It kind of feels like the Nationals deserve a manager like Johnson right now.