WASHINGTON -- The Nationals entered Friday's game against the Braves at 76-79, their second-best record since moving to Washington after the 2004 season.
Manager Davey Johnson believes there are fewer question marks regarding the team going into Spring Training next year. However, the skipper would like to see the team acquire outfield depth.
Johnson pointed out that the club has quality outfielders in the farm system, but they are not close to being ready to play in the big leagues next year.
"I think one of the areas the Nationals are lacking is depth in the outfield. The Minor League system has a lot of good young outfielders, but they are not knocking on the door yet," Johnson said. "So that is an area where if we could pick up somebody to fill that role, that would be good."
Johnson did not mention it, but the Nationals could use help on the bench. Entering Friday's action, Nats reserves have gone 36-for-194 (.186) with two home runs and 14 RBIs. Johnson has not made it a secret that he would like more production from an RBI standpoint than relying on speed and defense.
Hudson nemesis Nix gets nod at first for Nats
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to play Laynce Nix over Chris Marrero at first base on Friday, because Nix has better numbers against right-hander Tim Hudson. Nix is 9-for-17 (.529) with a homer and four RBIs against the righty.
Johnson also wants to play his best players knowing that the Braves are two games ahead of the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race.
"I want to give the at-bats to Marrero, but I have to look at what St. Louis is trying to do and not make it too easy," Johnson said. "Not that Marrero is an easier out than Nixie, but Nixie has some pretty good numbers against Hudson."
Weather won't affect Strasburg plan
WASHINGTON -- Manager Davey Johnson said the weather would not affect the way he used Stephen Strasburg against the Braves on Friday. As far as Johnson is concerned, he is not treating Strasburg as if he is coming off Tommy John surgery.
"As far as I'm concerned, he is healthy. It would be like a regular-season game," Johnson said. "Obviously, the Braves have the same problem with [Tim] Hudson. He had a similar injury. They are in a pennant race. They last thing they want is to start and stop [because of the rain]. That would be devastating to them."
Rain was in the forecast Friday night, and the game at Nationals Park had a delayed start.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.