Will Regulars Break The Offensive Slump?


For fans who really want a clue about how the Nationals will look this year, spring training starts today.

Manager Davey Johnson tells Comcast SportsNet’s Mark Zuckerman and other reporters that beginning with this afternoon’s game against the New York Mets, he’ll start playing his regulars for longer stretches. Up until now, he’s been taking a closer look at players who are competing for the last few spots on his bench or will likely start the season in the minors.

While it’s been good to see Brett Carroll, Steve Lombardozzi and some of the other part-time and platoon players, Johnson and the team’s followers need to get a look at the guys who’ll be playing every day. It’s time to get some serious at-bats for players like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Wilson Ramos. Zuckerman also reports that first baseman Adam LaRoche will also likely get his first action of the spring with the big league club as well.

Their performances will also tell us whether the team’s recent lack of run production is cause for concern. In their current 0-10-1 skid, the Nats have scored just 30 runs and have been shut out twice. Both of the shutouts have come in the past five games, a span which the team has totaled just six runs.

Those numbers sound troubling, but they would be truly alarming if they were coming from the regulars. True, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa have been at the top of the order, as they would be in the regular season, they’ve had the likes of Rick Ankiel and Chad Tracy hitting behind them. So while Desmond’s .286 OBP and Esponosa’s .220 average are worrisome, let’s see how they can hit with the big boys behind them every day.

As for the pitching in recent games, when Gio Gonzalez (10 hits and eight runs in 3.2 innings in a 9-0 loss to St. Louis) and Edwin Jackson (11 hits and 10 runs in 3.2  innings in a 12-3 loss to Baltimore)  have both been pounded. Johnson tells Zuckerman he doesn’t mind the results, as long as the pitchers get their work in and have enough arm strength.