DALLAS - Nationals skipper Davey Johnson spoke to media members at the Winter Meetings on Monday afternoon, tackling a number of topics, from whether he thinks the team will find the center fielder it’s seeking to whether he could go into the 2012 season with his present starting rotation.
* Johnson said he would be fine with Jayson Werth, who played right field last year in his first season on D.C., starting in center field should the Nationals come up empty in their search for someone to man that position. “I talked to Jayson a lot during the course of last season and he loves center field,” Johnson said. “He feels more comfortable there for some reason. He’s a heck of a right fielder and I thought he did a good job in center field.”
* First base prospect Chris Marrero, who underwent surgery last week to repair a torn left hamstring, might not be back before mid-July. “From what I gather, probably All Star break,” he said. “So the right handed bench player, utility player is, I think, very important.” Johnson thinks Adam LaRoche has recovered from the shoulder surgery that short-circuited his 2010 season, but would like to have a right-handed-hitting complement to LaRoche to provide a day off.
* One player the Nationals have had some talks with is veteran Mark DeRosa, who can play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots. But the 36-year-old has missed most of the past two seasons with wrist injuries. Still, he could be a fit for the Nationals. I really like him. “If he’s healthy, he fits the role about as good as you can get,” said Johnson, who particularly likes DeRosa’s versatility.
* Japanese media members asked Johnson about several Japanese players, including pitcher Yu Darvish, who may or may not be posted, the first step in having him pitch in the major leagues. “I like him. Big, strong, hard thrower. Actually throws a lot like Americans - you know, big, awful hard stuff. He’s got good command. That’s going to be an expensive deal, too, right there, but I do like him,” Johnson said.
* Asked about his current potential rotation and the general manager Mike Rizzo’s stated need to add a veteran, innings-eating starting pitcher, Johnson said, “You know, I really like my staff. I like it as it is right now. Anytime you can improve, go for it. I haven’t been pushing in that direction. Mike’s a smart guy. I leave that up to him.”
* If lefty Ross Detwiler makes the club out of spring training, it will likely be as a starter, despite the fact that Johnson would like at least two long men out of the bullpen. “I like (Detwiler) in the rotation. He showed me a lot last year. I think he grew up quite a bit,” Johnson said.
* Johnson won’t make major changes to the Nationals’ spring training regimen, but will work with spring training coordinator Bobby Henley to fine-tune workouts so less time is spent traveling from station to station.
“I thought we were a little too spread out. We got a lot of work in but we had too many little individual stations that guys had to go through. And in doing so there’s a lot of time wasted going to different fields. I like them closer,” Johnson said. “I like to be able to jump right over there and see what’s going on. And I like more team interaction than individual work.
“Individual work is important, but I don’t like to separate all the individual work. I like to do more individual work with other guys watching, other teammates watching what’s going on and seeing how they’re performing. It’s just the way I’ve done it every spring. I have a comfort zone in being able to pay attention to what’s going on.