McCatty update plus Nats trade deadline chatter

DETROIT - Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty is not with the team here in Detroit as he recovers from an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, but he’s expected to be released from a D.C. hospital tomorrow, according to manager Davey Johnson.

McCatty needed to be taken to a hospital prior to Sunday’s game against the Mets, and the Nats had hoped that McCatty would be well enough to join them on the team charter to Detroit yesterday afternoon. But doctors have decided to keep McCatty in the hospital just to be safe.

“Cat’s doing all right,” Johnson said. “They’re just keeping him in the hospital I think tonight and they’ll probably let him out tomorrow. Just being really careful with him. I’m glad they’re doing that.”

McCatty, a Detroit native, had been looking forward to this trip, but the main focus now is obviously getting him back to full health.

As was the case on Sunday, Johnson will take over pitching coach duties during the game.

Meanwhile, Johnson has said over the last few weeks that he doesn’t feel the Nationals need to make a trade to bolster their roster prior to tomorrow’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline. He stood by that message today.

“Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to do anything,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think we needed to do anything last year. I think we got the players we want here, just need them to do the things we know they’re capable of doing and we’ll be fine. ...

“It’s not like you can point to one area or one person or whatever. It’s everybody’s capable of doing better than they have been doing and I’ve seen signs of it. It’s not just the offense, it’s pitching, it’s everything.”

That’s a message that’s supported throughout much of the Nats’ clubhouse. The Nats know that all eight starting position players are under contract through at least next season, and general manager Mike Rizzo has expressed confidence in that group. Same goes for the rotation, where four starters (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler) will be around through at least 2014. The bullpen, for the most part, is set, both through this season and next.

The core of this team is firmly in place, and the Nats feel they both have the talent needed to play better and also haven’t performed well enough to this point to deserve Rizzo treating the trade deadline as a chance to make a splash with a big deal.

“Throughout the season, up until the trade deadline, as a team, you decide by your play whether we’re going to get some guys, whether we’re going to lose some guys, or whether we’re going to pretty much sit still,” Adam LaRoche said. “And I think that’s kinda where we’re at. I think with our play, I think if we would’ve done what we should’ve done for the first half of this year, I think we’d probably be looking.

“I don’t see any big, glaring holes, but they would fill a spot. If we had a starter injured, I think they’d probably go pay somebody and get a starter. On the other hand, if we were totally buried and just awful, that’s when they have a tendency to just dump guys. I don’t know that we’ll do anything.”

Rizzo, who stayed back in D.C. and is not with the team here in Detroit, said over the weekend that he might still look to tweak the Nats’ bench, adding another bat to bolster a group that has really struggled this season. But there doesn’t seem to be many attractive options out there at the right price.

If Rizzo is to acquire another hitter, it would probably be a left-hander, with Chad Tracy (.177/.210/.302) and Roger Bernadina (.184/.250/.279) providing minimal offense and the Nats having already traded for the right-handed Scott Hairston earlier this month.

The main left-handed bench bat available is Nate Schierholtz, who has batted .274/.334/.523 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs in 285 at-bats with the Cubs this season. The 29-year-old outfielder might have actually priced himself out of the trade market, however, by having such a strong season.

Raul Ibanez is another lefty bench bat that could be available, but the 41-year-old has cooled off recently after a very strong start and isn’t under contract past this season.

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