Johnson on bullpen struggles, plus Garcia and Kimball updates

Apparently, the Nationals experienced some technical difficulties during last night’s game when the video system they use to track pitches and locations in real time went down.

The system eventually was fixed by the time the game was in the middle innings, but the Nats had to adjust their normal in-game plan without the video.

“We couldn’t follow it,” Davey Johnson said. “Rick (Eckstein, hitting coach) usually goes in there and then reports to everybody about what (the pitcher is) doing. But we had no video, so we didn’t know.”

One reason the Nats wanted the video last night was to see whether Gio Gonzalez was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

“We really wanted to see whether we should be yelling at the umpire on Gio,” Johnson said with a smile.

One thing we learned from this experience: Baseball can actually be played without video tracking every pitch and spitting out pages upon pages of information.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Johnson cracked.

Meanwhile, Nationals relievers have gotten off to a slow start this season, which comes as a bit of a surprise given the experience level of the guys out there and how effective that unit was last year.

Through seven games, Nats relievers have allowed 28 hits and 20 runs (18 earned) over 23 2/3 innings, which comes out to a 6.85 ERA, second-worst in the majors. The guys in the ‘pen have collectively allowed five home runs and have a batting average against of .295, which ranks 26th among big league bullpens.

Last night, Tyler Clippard surrendered a three-run homer in the seventh that cut a four-run lead to one. Closer Rafael Soriano then served up a two-run shot in the ninth that again trimmed the Nats’ advantage to a single run.

Still, manager Davey Johnson says it’s too early for him to be worried.

“A couple guys have made some bad pitches,” Johnson said. “They’re not really in top form yet. Like Clippard, he’s been trying to go down and away with it and he’s just been leaving it. He’s had a little trouble early this year locating. That ball he gave up the home run on ran out over the middle of the plate. It’s just some game situation adjustments. Getting your location down. Facing good hitters, that happens. Soriano, the bomb was a slider that didn’t slide. He’s not where he needs to be yet, either.

“But I have all the confidence in the world their ability is going to come out.”

Johnson talked after last night’s game about wanting to see Soriano mix in more offspeed pitches to complement his fastball. Today, he backed off that stance a bit.

“He can pitch with just one (pitch),” Johnson said. “His fastball is like two or three pitches. He’s got a cutter and runs it back in and cuts it and has a straight one, too. But you can get just about anybody out when you locate and the sequence you’re using it. I’m not really worried about it. He knows what he’s doing. He’s a veteran. Got a proven track record.”

Johnson provided an update on right-handers Christian Garcia (partially torn tendon in his right forearm) and Cole Kimball (lat), who are down in Florida rehabbing their injuries at the Nats’ minor league complex.

“They’re doing well, they’re throwing well,” Johnson said. “They’re probably not going to pitching in games for another couple weeks, though.”

Garcia missed nearly all of spring training because of his forearm injury, and he started throwing again last Sunday after being shut down for nearly six weeks.

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