Prior to Saturday’s game against the Marlins, the Nationals are going to hold a special ceremony honoring manager Davey Johnson, whose final homestand as Nats manager is winding down.
There’s going to be a video montage on the JumboTron and general manager Mike Rizzo will present Johnson with an award. It sounds like it’ll be a nice tribute, but Johnson, who isn’t too fond of being the center of attention in such situations, isn’t looking forward to it.
“I’m thinking about checking into the hospital, is what I’m thinking about,” Johnson joked today. “I heard they’re giving me a little something on the (video) screen, that’s what I hear. I told Harolyn (Cardozo, special assistant to the general manager) if it’s anything more than five minutes, my back may go out. We’ve got a ballgame to win.”
Johnson spent part of his pregame press conference discussing his fond memories from his baseball career, dating back to his playing days, but he says he won’t start thinking about the big picture and his tenure as Nats manager coming to an end just yet.
“Probably when we’re mathematically eliminated. Then it’ll probably hit me,” Johnson said. “But until that point, I ain’t taking anything for granted. Never have, never will.”
Johnson didn’t have much of an update on Stephen Strasburg today, a day after Strasburg had trouble getting loose during a throwing session. Johnson decided to scratch Strasburg from tonight’s scheduled start after learning about the lingering tightness in his right forearm, but the tightness wasn’t enough to stop Strasburg from playing catch today on the field.
The right-hander had his start pushed back to Saturday, and despite the fact that Johnson hadn’t heard how Strasburg’s throwing session today went by the time he met with reporters, the skipper feels Strasburg will probably be good to go after getting a couple more days of rest.
“I really want to hold off until I heard about his flat ground was today,” Johnson said. “I can’t give you an update on that, but I’m assuming he’s going to be fine today. I talked to him before he went out. He’s feeling good, he was gonna run and do flat ground. If he does that again tomorrow and has no tightness or nothing ... and again, he wanted to pitch tonight. I just want to make that clear. He wanted to pitch. It was my judgment.
“I said there’s no need. I don’t want a guy that has a little discomfort in his arm the day before he pitches. All these games are important but his well-being is more important than him starting today. So give him two days more. The only difference is that he may not get the third start (at the end of the season). Probably it’ll be Gio that gets the third start.”
Johnson was asked whether Strasburg would’ve been allowed to start tonight if Gonzalez wasn’t on normal rest today.
“I don’t know. It’s a tough question,” Johnson said. “The doctor had given him clearance, so I probably would have, and (pitching coach Steve) McCatty thought he could probably do it. But I don’t like the fact that somebody has a little tightness in their arm and they had it before and then it came back. So just take two days off, do your flat-ground. And he’s a little longer between his ‘pen and his start, but I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.”
If Strasburg does happen to suffer another setback, the Nats will make a decision on his future at that time. But for now, Johnson and Rizzo are confident the right-hander will be fine.
“I’ve been told by the doctors not to be concerned, so I’m not gonna be concerned ‘til told differently,” Rizzo said.
With a hit tonight, Denard Span’s hitting streak will reach 30 games, which seems to be a bit of a milestone as hitting streaks go. Twenty straight games with a hit is darn impressive, but 30 seems to be when people really start turning their heads and keeping track of things on a day-to-day basis.
“I think it’s unbelievable. I think it’s great,’ Johnson said of Span. “He’s certainly done it at a very important time in our season. I’ve said all along when he gets on base in front of guys we’ve got in this lineup, we’re gonna score some runs. I haven’t let him miss any tough pitchers he’s had trouble with. He’s battling. Last year, part of his thing was a lot of his hits off tough pitchers were bunts. Maybe he’s got one bunt hit this year.
“It’s phenomenal. I hope he runs it all the way out and continues it next year.”