PHILADELPHIA - John Lannan isn’t the type to talk openly about wanting to stick it to an organization or shove a strong performance in anyone’s face to prove a point.
He could go that route, but Lannan just isn’t that kind of guy.
That’s why the left-hander downplayed the fact that his best outing in years - eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball - came against the team that drafted him, sent him to the minors last season and then cut him loose this winter.
“The first time back, I guess there was a little bit more (satisfaction), just because of my first start back and it was my first time facing the Nationals,” Lannan said. “I remembered that feeling. This time I just told myself it’s just any other start. I just had to go out there and worry about doing my job. It doesn’t matter who you face really. You just have to go out and pitch. Especially the way things have been going lately.”
Lannan was his typical self today - not overpowering anyone, but locating his sinker and keeping hitters off-balance. The Nats know Lannan’s repertoire, but they couldn’t touch him tonight.
“He’s going to have his starts where he throws really well like he did tonight, and he’s going to have starts where he doesn’t throw that well,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “Kind of just like any 3-4-5 guy, or whatever you want to call him. But tonight, he had his good stuff. He was getting ahead with his offspeed pitches. He had really good command of that changeup on the inner half to righties. And when he gets ahead 0-1, he does a good job.”
Ian Desmond had a different take.
“Me personally, it was just my own aggressiveness,” Desmond said. “I got myself out. I feel like I just beat my head against the door for three hours. Or however long that took. ... I didn’t think he used his fastball as much as he used to. He was throwing a lot of changeups. A lot of sliders. A couple cutters. I tip my cap to him, I guess. It’s hard to do, but I’ll do it.”
Reporters met Scott Hairston for the first time after the game, capping off what’s been a pretty chaotic 24 hours for the 33-year-old outfielder. He learned last night that he was getting traded from the Cubs to the Nats, had his flight this morning delayed twice and then arrived at Citizens Bank Park less than two hours before first pitch tonight.
Hairston has bounced around a good bit in his career, playing now for six teams in 10 seasons, and he thought there was a decent chance the Cubs would deal him prior to the trade deadline.
“I had a feeling,” Hairston said. “There wasn’t much talk about it but around this time, you always think, especially if you’ve been traded before, it’s always on your mind. But I was hoping if I was going to get traded that I’d come to a contender and that happened so I was very happy last night.”
While some younger players might not be used to coming off the bench and serving as a pinch-hitter, that’s a role Hairston is familiar with. He’s been a starting outfielder before, but has spent much of his career in a platoon role and a bench bat that is used against left-handed pitchers, who he sees well.
“I’m very comfortable with that,” Hairston said. “I’ve been used to that the last few years. Coming over here I expected the same thing. Being in the NL Central I didn’t really have the opportunity I was looking for. Especially in the span of a few games you’d see a lot of righties but it’s nice coming over here, into this division, which I’m used to. I was with (the Mets) for two years so I’ve seen a lot of the pitching, the left-handers.”
Manager Davey Johnson said today he’d consider using Hairston a bit at first base, but Hairston said he’s never played there before. He is open to the idea, however, and said he has taken grounders at first in the past.
Hairston’s playing time with the Cubs this season was spotty, which the Nats feel might explain his .172 average and .232 on-base percentage. Hairston does have eight home runs on the season, but knows he hasn’t performed to the level he’s capable.
“Just OK,” he said. “Obviously the batting average is not where I want it to be. I think I shoot for a high average more than anything. But as a player you try to never be satisfied. At the same time I just want to do my job coming off the bench and when there’s a lefty on the mound, I want to be a tough out. Overall I haven’t been satisfied with the way I’ve been playing but we still have over a half a season left and there’s still a lot of time.”