The Nationals are still fourth in the National League in stolen bases with 29, but lately, their running game has been almost non-existent. They haven't stolen a base since May 10, and have attempted only four steals since that time. "It's really not the identity of our ballclub at all. We were running early, and we had some success doing it," Riggleman said. "Sometimes you can run, because you're down in the game a little bit and the other club isn't paying as much attention to you. But as the league started paying attention to us better, and the runs became more important, nobody's sneaking up on anybody there."
The Nationals are 10-4 when they steal a base, and 14-10 when they attempt a steal. But they also worry about running themselves out of situations where they could score a run another way.
"We have about three or four guys who really know the strike zone: (Adam) Dunn, (Ryan) Zimmerman, (Josh) Willingham, a couple others, Willie Harris. They really know the strike zone. We get in some of those 3-1, 3-2 counts where you might run, but we want our hitter to be able to take ball four if it's borderline, and he can't do that if you're running."
Center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who is 8-for-16 on stolen base attempts, hasn't attempted a steal since May 15 and hasn't been successful since May 10. Part of that is because Morgan is in a slump - he's hitting .213 since his last steal - but Riggleman also said he's not trying to force a steal when pitchers are paying so much attention to him.
"The example I use is, in '08, I was with Seattle," Riggleman said. "Ichiro is a great basestealer, but in the second half of the season, he probably stole four or five bases, because the pitchers just refused to let him go. They just wouldn't let him go, and he said, 'You know what? I'm just going to run into an out if I go.' So he was smart. Instead of running into outs, the game wasn't about him, it wasn't ego driven. (He said), 'The best thing for me to do is stay here at first base, keep this hole open at first for the hitter, and go from there. If they stop paying attention me, I'll go.' But you've got to use good judgment over there. And right now, we're in a situation where Nyjer's on at first base, and the pitchers just aren't giving him anything."