Now that he’s started the second week of his tenure as Nationals manager, Davey Johnson is starting to get a better feel of what he wants to do with the roster. His talk with reporters before tonight’s game with the Cubs was a wide-ranging session in which Johnson discussed a few of his preferences for where he’ll put players. Here are the highlights:
* Johnson will use the Nationals’ catchers in a more concrete manner than Jim Riggleman did, playing Wilson Ramos two out of every three games and using Ivan Rodriguez once in a three-game stretch. Riggleman started Ramos 47 times in the 75 games he managed - almost two out of every three games - but he based his decisions more on matchups than a regular schedule. When Johnson talked to Rodriguez about the schedule, he said, “I know they’ve probably been going on matchups, but Ramos is going to be the primary, and you’re going to be right there - two for Ramos, one for you.” Rodriguez was at the plate when Jayson Werth scored the game-winning run on Carlos Marmol’s wild pitch yesterday, and Johnson said he wouldn’t hesitate to use the 39-year-old off the bench and risk burning his last catcher.
* Ross Detwiler, who will start tonight for the Nationals, might not be headed back to the minors after tonight’s game. He could start once more for the team before the All-Star break, if the Nationals decide to skip Jordan Zimmermann’s final first-half turn in the rotation to save some innings. Zimmermann will be shut down once he’s pitched between 150 and 160 innings this year, and if the Nationals skip one of his starts now, they could push him a little deeper into the season. They could also use Zimmermann as one of the final starters out of the All-Star break. As for Detwiler, Johnson said he could stay in the bullpen as a long reliever or a kind of emergency starter; he’s been saying he wants another left-hander on his pitching staff, and Detwiler impressed him in spring training. “He’s not somebody that, as far as I’m concerned, was called up just for one start,” Johnson said. “You might have to wrestle me to get him out of here.”
* Johnson said he’s close to where he wants to be in terms of knowing the Nationals’ entire roster, but said he’s had to lean on his coaching staff more than he otherwise would in his first few games. Third-base coach Bo Porter, for example, is still controlling the running game, whereas Johnson said he’d normally run everything. “There’s a lot of homework I’m slow to get up on,” Johnson said. “I always know every (pitcher’s) release times by heart - I usually have them on every lineup card so I know whether I’m going to be aggressive on the bases, or I’m going to hit and run, or I’m bunting them over. I feel about 80 percent there.”