Nationals manager Jim Riggleman has been back over last night's come-from-ahead loss to the Orioles in his head plenty of times, to the point where if there were any quick fixes for the Nationals' defensive issues, he would have thought of one by now.
But the problem for the Nationals is that most of their errors have come from a trio of middle infielders they've more or less committed themselves to playing every day -- which means there's not an easy solution for the defense.
Ian Desmond, Cristian Guzman and Adam Kennedy have made 34 of the team's 67 errors; Desmond and Guzman were responsible for all four last night. It presents a problem for Riggleman on a nightly basis, but not one he can fix with his pen.
"Myself and the coaches, we talk a lot about it. We're frustrated with it. The players are frustrated with it," Riggleman said. "But you've got to show confidence in your players. You made commitments. You try to stay with those commitments as long as possible, and that's what we'll do."
Riggleman said Alberto Gonzalez, who might be the team's second-best defensive infielder behind Ryan Zimmerman, could see some playing time, but he's blocked by a glut of infielders. Essentially, the Nationals have six players on their roster right now who could play second base: Desmond, Guzman, Kennedy, Gonzalez, Willie Harris and even Michael Morse. The Nationals simply don't have the at-bats to give everyone in the middle infield, and unless something changes on the roster, that will probably stay that way - especially since Riggleman said he'd keep using Desmond, Guzman and Kennedy as his primary middle infielders.
"We'll move some things around a little bit, just give a guy a day off a little more often and play with some things. But it's a veteran group," Riggleman said. "You've got to pay respect to your veteran players at the same time you try to develop some young players."
Later, he added: "We're just in a tremendous defensive slump. Hitters get in slumps. Sometimes, defensive players get in slumps. But I think there's a little aura hanging over our club right now where some people question whether or not they're going to make the play. We've just got to get out of that. We've just got to create an atmosphere here where we believe they're going to make the plays, and they believe they're going to make the plays. But it's all talk. I can talk about it all day. We've got to do it."