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Davey Johnson keeps losing players, yet the Nationals remain in first place.
The Washington Nationals just keep losing players. Just when you think they've suffered the one injury that will derail their surprising season, another guy goes down reminding us that it could always get worse.
A week after losing outfielder Jayson Werth for the next couple of months with a broken wrist, catcher Wilson Ramos tore his right ACL and is out for the season. On the bright side, Michael Morse, the Nats' top power hitter last year, might be coming back in early June.
Injuries have also caused problems with the Nationals bullpen. Drew Storen has been out since the spring after having bone chips removed from his elbow. And Brad Lidge is on the DL with an abdominal strain.
Those developments have forced Johnson to use Henry Rodriguez as closer, something that may not be working out that well. With a three-run lead on Monday, Rodriguez couldn't make it through the ninth, walking the bases loaded. Johnson pulled him before he blew the game and tapped into his deep bullpen to close out a win.
Figuring out how best to use breakout relievers like Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus, while sticking with setup man Tyler Clippard while he struggled has demonstrated Johnson's deft touch. (Of course, it helps that he has those relievers to use.) As mentioned earlier, properly handling a bullpen might be a manager's most difficult task.
Couple that with trying to tutor rookie Bryce Harper, who showed some of his impulsiveness by slamming a wall with his bat and opening a cut on his forehead with the ricochet. Instead of chewing Harper out over the incident, however, Johnson used it as an opportunity to counsel the 19-year-old on properly channeling anger and frustration.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Harper has hit his first two major league home runs since then.
Johnson stays calm while everything seems to go crazy around him. The Nationals are definitely taking a cue from him and the approach has been working.