Johnson sees where the Nationals can improve

The Nationals’ new field manager Davey Johnson conducted his first pregame news conference at Nationals Park Friday before their homestand opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Johnson officially replaced Jim Riggleman Monday in Los Angeles. Riggleman resigned eight days ago following a 2-1 home series finale over the Seattle Mariners.

Johnson said he sees a lot of good things from the way the team is set up right now but also where he would like to adjust the roster.

“I love the ball club and I love the talent level,” Johnson said. “But I am not really comfortable with all the pieces and the way they all fit together. It is wonderful being around a .500 club but that doesn’t win championships.”

Johnson believes evaluation will be a major component to putting together a 25-man roster that will be highly competitive the remainder of this season and for the 2012 season.

“My job is to look at all the things, make decisions, establish young players in the lineup, to where by the end of the year there is only one or two question marks going into spring training for whoever is managing them next year,” Johnson said.

He said he sees right now where he would like to improve the pitching staff and it starts with the bullpen.

“I want to establish guys, set up guys (and) long guys,” Johnson said. “I am a little uncomfortable we don’t have a sixth starter. If something happened to my starter, I don’t like to bring a guy out of the bullpen that could only give me a couple of innings. I would like to have a little more left-handed presence in the bullpen.”

On the offensive side, Johnson wants a little more offense coming off the bench.

“(That) causes problems for the opposing manager and creates better match ups for us,” Johnson said. “It protects certain batters in the lineup from always, say if it is a left-handed hitter always getting a left-handed pitcher.”

Johnson said the way he prefers the game to play out is to take an early lead and then protect with great pitching and defense.

“My philosophy is basic,” Johnson said. “I want to get ahead and then defend. That is one of the reasons I am not real comfortable without having, as Frank Howard would say, ‘a guy sitting next to me with a big hairy chest.’ “

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